Dr. Brian Kogon

Photo courtesy UMMC

Photo courtesy UMMC

In January, Dr. Brian Kogon, his wife and three kids moved to Jackson from Atlanta after he joined the University of Mississippi Medical Center as the new chief of pediatric cardiothoracic surgery.

"It's a little bit of a culture shock going from big, big, big city to small city, but it's very easy living," Dr. Kogon said. "The people down here are probably the nicest people I've ever met. The opportunities here that are related to work and for my family I think are fantastic."

He said that though no one in his family is in medicine, he decided to change his college major from computer science to medicine.

"I wanted to be out with people and not behind a desk," he said. "Believe it or not, medicine seemed to be the logical step."

Cincinnati, Ohio-native Kogon attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, for his undergraduate studies and graduated in 1991 with a bachelor's degree in biology. He went to the University of Cincinnati for medical school and graduated in 1995 with his medical degree. He spent eight years of residency at Indiana University Medical Center in Indianapolis, Ind., and his ninth year of residency in Atlanta at Emory Medical School. He stayed on staff there for 14 years.

Dr. Kogon said he found his first rotation in pediatrics as a medical student to be awkward due to his inexperience, but in learning how to interact by being playful and non-threatening, working in pediatrics has become second nature.

As chief of pediatric cardiothoracic surgery at UMMC, Dr. Kogon is responsible for patients who require heart surgery and those who suffer from congenital heart disease, which can range from newborns to adults. The complexity of this work can range from babies who are born with a small hole in their heart to babies who only have one functional side of the heart and need major reconstructions, including heart transplants.

"Every heart's a little bit different, and no two operations are the same," he said. "Kids are very, very resilient, and there is something very special about taking care of babies. ... I have one of the coolest jobs in the world 99 percent of the time. One percent of the time, it's the worst job in the world, and that's when something bad happens, and a baby dies. I have to recognize that we can't help everybody and that we can only do the best we can. The key is to learn from those failures and move the specialty forward in the right direction."

When it comes to dealing with a difficult case, Dr. Kogon doesn't hesitate in taking on some of the burden while being honest and transparent with a family.

"The families will appreciate honesty more than they'll appreciate false hope," Dr. Kogon said. "Most of the time families will come back and thank you for what you've done."

While at UMMC, Dr. Kogon wants to see the program get bigger. He hopes to create an environment where everybody is equal and working as a team.

"If one person can't do their job well, then I can't do my job well, and the baby is not going to do well," he said. "It really is a privilege to be a doctor, and for people to put their lives in your hands. I do everything I can to support the people around me. We're all in this together. We're all just trying to do the best that we can."

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