(Phoenix, AZ, October 31, 2017) -- They arrived early this morning with daggers, scalpels, drills, knives and even a heartless cold-blooded robot.
With only 30 minutes to do their worst, world-renowned surgeons at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, which includes Barrow Neurological Institute and Norton Thoracic Institute, were let out of the operating rooms just long enough to showcase their cutting talents at this year’s annual Doc-O-Lantern Pumpkin Carving Contest.
Nearly a dozen surgeons sliced and diced at helpless pumpkins to create scary Halloween masterpieces before a roaring crowd outside the hospital’s main entrance. While previous years have seen surgeons carve using everything from operating room tools, to a blow torch, to a chain saw, this year brought a new level of sophisticated horror, with thoracic surgeon, Samad Hashimi, MD, attacking his gourd with a surgical robot called the “Da Vinci.” The Da Vinci is a FDA-approved (for humans) state-of-the-art robot with four arms designed for minimally invasive surgeries.
Dr. Hashimi clearly had the mechanical upper hand with the high-tech sculpting. But in the end, it was old-fashioned slicing that brought victory. This year’s winner was carved by Ronald Gagliano, MD, a colon and rectal surgeon, who slashed a hair-raising interpretation of pumpkin-Dr. Seymore Butt performing a gourd colonoscopy to steal the trophy from last year’s champion, Jeffrey Sugimoto, MD., who had created a horrifying vegetarian Alien.
While the contest showcases the surgeons’ creative abilities, the participating doctors also remind Valley residents about important Halloween safety tips.
“Hospitals all over the nation are haunted by Halloween-related injuries this time of year,” says St. Joseph’s Chief Medical Officer and long-time Doc-O-Lantern contestant Edward Donahue, MD. “As surgeons, we know the importance of safety and of being prepared at all times. We don’t want anyone to have a gory Halloween.”
Dr. Donahue, who has competed brilliantly throughout the contest’s 7-year history, has never won the coveted Doc-O-Lantern trophy. This year by a special vote of the twilight organizing committee, he was honored with a lifetime achievement award, and a trophy the height of a headstone.
Jack-o-Lantern Carving Tips
- Cut the Other Way: Don’t carve toward yourself. Slice the other way in small, controlled strokes.
- Smarter, Not Sharper: A sharp knife can become lodged in the thicker parts of the pumpkin and cause serious injury if your hand is in the wrong place when it dislodges. Local stores sell special carving kits that include small serrated saws which are less likely to get stuck in the pumpkin and are not sharp enough to cause a deep injury.
- Location. Location. Location: Set up your carving station in a clean, dry and well-lit area. Wash and thoroughly dry the cutting area, your hands and all tools that you will use to carve your pumpkin. Moisture can cause slipping which can lead to injuries.
- A Sharp Little Rule: Little hands and sharp tools do not mix. While children can draw the design on the pumpkin and clean out the inside, an adult should do the actual carving.
- Big People Needed: It only takes a second for an injury to occur, so supervise closely. Do not leave children or adolescents alone with carving tools.
- Street Smarts: Carrying glow sticks or flashlights and equipping costumes with reflective tape are all ways to make trick-or-treaters more visible for drivers. When roaming streets in search of the best candy, remember the importance of safety in numbers and looking both ways before crossing the street.
- Beware of Stranger Danger: Children should always be supervised and advised to never enter a stranger’s home.
- Shorter Spooks: Costume selection is fun and exciting for all ages, but the best way to ward off trips and falls is to make sure that costumes are not too long and that high heels are not too tall.
- Boo the Sweet Tooth: Along with checking candy for tampering before eating, try to keep kids from eating too much candy while collecting. Make sure they have a good meal before leaving home.