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Clinton's lead surgeon is ECU medical school graduate

Dr. Joshua Sonett
GREENVILLE, N.C.   (Mar. 11, 2005)   —   The chest surgeon who led the team that operated on former President Bill Clinton has strong eastern North Carolina ties.

Dr. Joshua Sonett graduated with honors from East Carolina University’s medical school in 1988. He is associate professor of surgery at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons and director of the lung transplant program at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, where Clinton’s surgery was performed Thursday.

Sonett and Dr. Kenneth Steinglass, the hospital’s chief thoracic surgeon, performed the four-hour surgery to remove a thick band of scar tissue that had built up as a complication following Clinton’s quadruple bypass operation last September, according to the New York Times.

A collection of bloody fluid caused scar tissue to form and squeeze the lower lobe of Clinton’s left lung, impeding his breathing capacity by more than 25 percent, Sonett told the Times.

“It was like peeling an orange,” Sonett said about removing the tissue during a press conference after the surgery’s completion. At the end of the procedure, Clinton’s lung “was very healthy and looked excellent. We expect even better than a full recovery,” Sonett said, according to news reports.

Clinton is expected to remain hospitalized for up to 10 days, depending on how quickly he recovers from the operation. After four to six weeks, Clinton should be able to continue his normal activities.

Sonett earned his undergraduate degree from Duke University. After graduating from ECU in 1988, Sonett completed his general surgery and a research fellowship in cardiothoracic surgery at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. He completed his cardiothoracic residency at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and a fellowship in thoracic surgery at Sloan-Kettering Memorial Hospital in New York.

Sonett has been a faculty member at Columbia since 2001. He was voted one of New York’s best doctors in New York Magazine in 2002, 2003 and 2004.


Contact: Jeannine Manning Hutson | 252-744-2481