Dr. Bruce Mickey, a UT Southwestern neurosurgeon praised by many of his patients for his personal touch as well as his precise hands, has been named Professor Emeritus of Neurological Surgery.
Dr. Carlos Bagley, Associate Professor of Neurological Surgery and Orthopaedic Surgery, cited Dr. Mickey’s numerous contributions to UTSW over the past 36 years – establishment of brain and pituitary tumor as well as epilepsy surgery programs; work to create the Annette G. Strauss Center for Neuro-Oncology; and fundraising to equip the Neurosurgery resident training laboratory.
“I’m grateful to receive the honor, in part because it will allow me to remain on campus and to continue to transition some of my existing patients to other members of the faculty,” said Dr. Mickey, who retired in February and held the William Kemp Clark Chair of Neurological Surgery. He also plans to continue collaborating on research and to teach medical students and residents.
Dr. Mickey, a Louisiana native, earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Harvard College and then graduated from UT Southwestern Medical School in 1978. He remained at UTSW for his internship and residency and went on to become Professor and Vice Chair of Neurological Surgery and Director of the Strauss Center.
As he steps back from a full-time faculty role, Dr. Mickey said he is thankful for all the help he received from others at UT Southwestern over the years.
“Nothing that I have done was the product of my work alone,” he said. “It was a team effort, and that’s what made it successful. I want to express my gratitude to everyone who has helped me along the way, who helped me help other people.”
Melissa Thompson, a Lubbock mother, is one of those patients who benefited from Dr. Mickey’s skills as a surgeon.
At age 18, she had her first brain surgery to remove tumors resulting from a rare, inherited disease called von Hippel-Lindau syndrome, which can cause tumors in the brain, spinal cord, retina, or kidneys. She was first treated at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) near Washington, D.C. A surgeon there referred her to Dr. Mickey, telling her he was one of the best in the country.
“I’ve had seven brain surgeries, and Dr. Mickey did six of them,” said Ms. Thompson, now 43 years old. She also had four spine procedures that NIH surgeons performed and a Gamma Knife radiation treatment to her brain stem that Dr. Mickey completed.
Along the way, she said, Dr. Mickey has always been there for her – rescheduling a surgery so she could celebrate her wedding day, giving her advice on how to safely give birth to her now-9-year-old daughter, and setting up testing to confirm her child did not carry the same disease-causing genetic mutation.
“He’s always really done a great job taking care of me,” Ms. Thompson said. “I am living what I would say is a normal life.”
Another patient, Ruth Feldman, also recalled Dr. Mickey’s expert, compassionate care. The Plano woman was diagnosed with a brain tumor after her son-in-law, a psychiatrist at UT Southwestern, asked a neurologist family friend to evaluate her for weakness and problems walking. MRIs revealed a massive brain tumor, she said, and Dr. Mickey’s office took her in right away.
Ms. Feldman’s June 2010 surgery returned her life to as close to normal as possible. “I thank God, knowing where I was before and where I am today. It’s a different world,” she said.
Part of the tumor had to be left because it had invaded her memory center, Ms. Feldman said. So the years since her surgery have been punctuated by checkups with Dr. Mickey to make sure the tumor stays in check.
Even in retirement, Dr. Mickey has promised to see her every year, she said.
“My whole family adores Dr. Mickey,” said Ms. Feldman, a retired counselor and mother of three grown children. Like Dr. Mickey, she is thankful. “It’s been 11 years (since that surgery) and I am grateful for each of those years.”