Alcatraz Sharkfest Swim

Name: Dr Tom Weiser,  Graeme Rosenberg and Aleah Brubaker 

Event: The Alcatraz Sharkfest Swim 

Date: 4 June 2017 

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As far as extreme sporting challenges go, it doesn’t get much more extreme than The Alcatraz Sharkfest Swim. So we are in awe of Lifebox trustee and Stanford Surgeon, Dr Tom Weiser, along with surgical residents Graeme Rosenberg and Aleah Brubaker – who are taking on this intense challenge to help raise funds for our work.

We caught up with them recently and this is what we learned.

As surgeons, why does Lifebox and the safer surgery mission resonate with you?

Tom: Our goal as surgeons is to both do good and do no harm – in the operating room, without strong teamwork and safeguards we can do lots of harm unintentionally. I love the teamwork message of Lifebox, and look to my colleagues in the OR for help and support in ensuring safety. As someone who has worked with and been a part of Lifebox since its inception, I am committed to the mission of improving surgical safety.

Graeme: It’s important to recognize that, while working in a setting with nearly unlimited resources, millions of other people don’t even have access to basic surgical facilities. I believe what Lifebox provides goes a step beyond access – they provide safety. I always try to think of the patient’s experience: it’s nerve racking enough to need an operation in the first place, I can’t even imagine what it must be like also to have to think that the operating environment itself is dangerous and possibly deadly. Not only does Lifebox tangibly improve safety and, in turn, save lives, but I think they also provide peace-of-mind to patients needing an operation.

What’s the lure of an extreme event like this (and can you relate it to your professional temperaments in some way?!)

Tom: What can I say, it’s a great way to stay in shape, challenge me mentally and physically, and participate in a great sport and a really fun event!

Graeme: Why do an event like this? For me, it’s really a personal challenge. It motivates me to train and focus and prepare. Working hard towards completing something very difficult is really satisfying! Not to mention, upping the ante and doing something a little crazy is really fun.

I definitely believe in the “work-hard play-hard” mentality. We dedicate so much time and effort training to become a surgeon, I think it’s important to bring that intensity into all aspects life, especially doing things that are fun, maybe even a little wild!

I’ve tried to do something kind of intense, something that requires a degree of training and focus, every few years. I think it’s good to challenge yourself and really push your limits.