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“My drive to do fewer incisions, comes from Bonjer”

“My drive to do fewer incisions, comes from Bonjer”

Photographer:Fotograaf: Joey Roberts/ Illustratie Simone Golob

Nicole Bouvy inspired by Jaap Bonjer

She would like to name more than one source of inspiration. Maastricht surgeon Nicole Bouvy would also prefer to choose people from outside the world of science. Actually, ‘source of inspiration’ is not the right term. Seeing patients who are so sick and miserable after an operation – literally because of all the incisions – triggers Bouvy to work harder, to prove that things can be done differently.

She shows a photograph on her telephone of a patient (unrecognizable) with a malformed, discoloured and swollen abdomen. “This lady was operated on ten years ago for a perforation of the stomach. A large incision was made in her stomach, resulting in scar tissue ruptures and adhesions. After that, she underwent four more operations for those complications.” What Bouvy (1969), recently appointed as professor to the endowed chair of ‘innovative surgical techniques’, wants to say is that this woman would have been saved a lot of misery if a smaller incision had been made at the time of the first operation. Or, the smaller the incision, the better. Bouvy reckons that exploratory surgery is a solution for many intestinal and stomach operations, certainly for those suffering from morbid obesity, for whom stomach operations are the only solution to losing weight. Surgeons can limit themselves during exploratory surgery to a few small incisions in the stomach to insert the instruments. Alternatively, access to the stomach is through the mouth and oesophagus.

Bouvy’s story is impressive, but several sources of inspiration and non-academic? Observant cannot allow that. Rules are rules. You must name one source of inspiration. Bouvy does not need to think for long: “My co-supervisor Jaap Bonjer.” After working for a number of years in Rotterdam and subsequently in Canada, Bonjer (1960) has been head of the department of surgery at the VUmc (VU University Medical Center Amsterdam). Bouvy knows Bonjer from Erasmus University Rotterdam, as a supervisor when she did her PhD research. “He is a terrific doctor, very patient-oriented. He doesn’t get a high from his own ego; he only wants the right care for the patient. And a deal is a deal.”
“My drive to do fewer incisions, comes from Bonjer. The Rotterdam hospital was also very advanced in that area. He is an energetic man, enthusiastic. Together we carried out the first laparoscopic adrenal gland operation in the Netherlands. Laparoscope literally means: to look (scope) in the stomach (laparos). The Dutch word kijkoperatie (operation to look) does not quite cover what it really is. We look and operate. The English term key hole surgery is better.”
Bouvy is well aware of the fact that Jaap Bonjer, as head of the casualty department, was closely connected with the commotion surrounding the cancelled hospital reality series 24 hours: Between Life and Death. “He was in the newspapers and on television. I truly believe that he, in his enthusiasm, did not think about the consequences.” RTL televised the first episode of the reality series in February 2012, in which recordings were made (some people not being aware) on the casualty ward of the VUmc. The series was discontinued after that episode.
Wendy Degens 

This is a series in which researchers talk about the person who inspired them most

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