Editor’s Note: Doctored Photos

Craig OuthierMarch 1, 2023
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It’s always a madhouse at PHOENIX magazine come Top Doctors season – and, no, that’s not literally true, I must add out of respect to the mental health professionals.  

Anyway, it gets really nuts around here. Besides the raw labor and late nights – i.e. writing, editing and designing the largest annual city magazine in the U.S. (432 pages this year, tying last year’s total) – we also convert our lobby into a makeshift photo studio to shoot a large handful of the peer-selected physicians who populate this annual list of the Valley’s most respected healers. You’ll find their Q&A profiles scattered throughout the 44-page Top Docs feature.

Simply scheduling the docs for their photo sessions is an annual juggling act for art director Mirelle Inglefield and photographer Steve Craft. After all, physicians aren’t generally people with a lot of free time on their hands. Case in point: Phoenix thoracic surgeon Ross Bremner, who had to move his Friday afternoon photo shoot to the late morning to accommodate something that popped up in his schedule.

Photo by Steve Craft
Photo by Steve Craft

“Our brief talk reminded me of what I love about Top Docs: Every issue is an interface experience with people who do fascinating work in a dynamic, important profession, and to the last love their jobs.”

And what was so important that he had to reschedule his big close-up with PHOENIX mag?

Oh, just a spur-of-the-moment double-lung transplant.

Chatting with the surgeon during his visit, I learned a little about the challenges of organ transplant. Talk about a juggling act. With the clock ticking down before cell death renders the donor organ useless, physicians and administrators must muscle through a multi-factorial calculus of geography, physiology and economics to settle on a recipient. Then comes the small matter of putting this slowly dying heart or lung or cornea on ice and getting it from point A to point B, often spanning hundreds of miles; and then the surgical procedure itself.

Bremner (page 214) says it takes 6-8 solid hours of cutting, sawing and stitching – and many other “ings,” I imagine – to complete a typical double-lung transplant, performing some of the most complex and high-stakes work known to man. I asked him if it was exhausting, mentally and physically.

“Not until afterward,” he said with a smile. Evidently, transplanting a lung is a bit like watching a 6- to 8-hour movie that also happens to be the most engrossing movie you’ve ever seen in your life. Every time you do it.

Our brief talk reminded me of what I love about Top Docs: Every issue is an interface experience with people who do fascinating work in a dynamic, important profession, and to the last love their jobs. The magazine can never cover medicine too much, as far as I’m concerned… so long as we leave room for the odd dining review or small business profile.

Admittedly, this behemoth may test that premise. Tell us what you think. We’ll be down in the lobby, tearing down light rigs and restoring furniture arrangements until the next time.