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Doctor Who: Dr. Michael D. Weiss

Written by Erica Brown

Pediatrics – Neonatology UF Health Dr. Michael D. Weiss

Why did you choose to go into neonatology? 

I enjoy the excitement that is involved with intensive care. It is similar to playing football with the greatest team every day, and you are the quarterback. You get to work with an outstanding team of nurses, nurse practitioners, respiratory therapists, nurse study coordinators and other physicians. I also enjoy helping babies by performing resuscitations after deliveries, if needed. It is so rewarding to hear a baby cry after a difficult delivery and to be able to hand a mother a healthy baby.

What are some recent advancements in neonatal care that excite you the most?

Several years ago, we did not have any therapies to offer babies with brain injuries and therefore no hope for the parents. Today, we are cooling babies and there are multiple other therapies that are moving to the bedside, which will arm the bedside doctor with not only other medicines to treat brain injuries but also hope of a normal outcome for the families. We are entering a golden era of treating brain injuries in babies, and I am excited to be part of and contribute to this era.

Two years ago, you helped develop a device that monitors preemies’ brains and also detects bleeding as soon as it starts — tell us about that?

Preterm babiesare atan increased risk of bleeding from fragile blood vessels that are located next to the ventricles, or fluid-filled spaces, in the brain. This can lead to long-term problems with neurodevelopment. We check for bleeds by doing a head ultrasound at seven days of life, and this merely shows us that the baby has had a bleed. We are developing a device which can detect these bleeds in real time, thereby allowing us to intervene and prevent injury to the fragile premature brain. The preterm baby has very fragile skin and this device has to be on for long periods of time, so we are developing a device which can be left on for long periods of time and not cause skin breakdown.

Is there a case that stands out in your mind as most inspiring?

All of the cooling babies that I have been privileged to take care of. We follow all the patients in an outpatient clinic, and these families have so much hope, faith, courage and strength. This has inspired me to work long hours and be unrelenting in developing new therapies to improve the care of their children and future babies with brain injury.

“If I weren’t a doctor, I’d be…” Both my sons are football kickers, and I love going out and practicing with them. If I was not a doctor, I would love to be a special-teams coach in high school or college. I also love playing electric guitar, so a special-teams coach by day and rock star at night.

 

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Erica Brown