Alumni Feature :: Nationwide Children's Hospital

Alumni Feature

A Moment with Denis R. King, MD

When Dr. Denis King was an Ohio State University resident in general surgery, he had rotations at Columbus Children’s Hospital both as an intern in 1970 and as a third year in 1973. When he reflects on the experience, he shares that the surgeons were “technically excellent and the practice of pediatric surgery was vast. We did thoracic, abdominal, GYN, ENT, tumors, burns and trauma. It was truly general surgery and a very interesting practice.” One of his most memorable experiences was having the opportunity to remove a large hepatic cancer in a one year old. The operation required removal of over 50 percent of the liver, which was resected en bloc with the intrahepatic vena cava as well as removing a tumor embolus from the portal vein. The child recovered uneventfully and was cured following chemotherapy.

A key player in Dr. King’s residency experience was his primary surgical mentor, E. Thomas Boles, MD. “He was a very detail-oriented and demanding clinician. I have tried to emulate his behavior in every way.” The relationship has lasted through the years since those days in the 70’s. Dr. King still has dinner with the 97-year-old Dr. Boles every week and they share stories of things that took place some forty years ago.

Following his third-year experience in 1973, Dr. King completed his first year of pediatric surgery training at Columbus Children’s Hospital from 1974 to 1975. He spent his second year (1975 – 1976) at the University Hospital in Miami, Florida. Dr. King remarks that was the first time in six years that he had every other weekend off. He then spent two years (1976 – 1978) in the United States Navy at The Bethesda Navy Hospital in Washington, DC. In 1978, he returned to Columbus to join the faculty at The Ohio State University and partner with Dr. Boles.

During the last forty years, Dr. King has “… operated on about 28,000 children. I have written more than 100 papers and I serve on The Ohio State University faculty as a full professor of surgery.” As a teacher, Dr. King has won “… every teaching award at Nationwide Children's Hospital as well as at Mt. Carmel Hospital and The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.” He shares that this year he is being honored by the surgery training program at Riverside Methodist Hospital as well.

Dr. King’s enthusiasm and accomplishments as a teacher are not only reflected in these awards but also in the lives he has positively influenced. “I have had the privilege of participating in the training of over forty pediatric surgeons. They will be my legacy to the future. Many of them still call me for advice with difficult and puzzling problems.” It looks like Dr. King has accomplished his goal to emulate Dr. Boles not only as a surgeon but also as a mentor.

Now, looking back over the decades of his career, Dr. King shared that if he could go back to the 70’s and talk to the resident he was then, he would give him the following advice: “Read more. Write more. Work harder and think more about your patients and less about yourself.”

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