Skip to Main Content
Arizona desert

Surgical masterminds create ornate Halloween carvings, showcasing their World Series pride and a gourd-atious lung transplant procedure

 3 minute read time

Doctors unmask safety reminders at St. Joseph’s Doc-O-Lantern Pumpkin Carving Contest

PHOENIX (Oct. 31, 2023) ― The Doc-O-Lantern Pumpkin Carving Contest at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center today showcased renowned physicians’ superior cutting skills while highlighting important Halloween safety tips.

With only 30 minutes to perform their carving magic, eight of St. Joseph’s finest knife-wielding physicians sliced and diced at helpless Halloween pumpkins to create ornate masterpieces. The fierce competition conjured silly and old-fashioned jack-o-lanterns, several unique creations honoring our hometown Arizona Diamondbacks and their contention for the World Series, a diorama modeling radiation oncology techniques, and a creepy craniotomy. Onlookers even witnessed a rare, gourd-atious lung transplantation

This year’s grueling competition featured a number of newcomers as well as a few of the hospital’s heaviest hitters – including reigning champion, Barrow neurosurgeon, Kris Smith, MD, and longtime crowd favorite, Norton Thoracic Institute surgeon, Ross Bremner, MD – who were let out of their clinics just long enough to bring shrieks and laughter to a roaring crowd outside in the hospital’s Healing Garden. 

While past contests have seen surgical robots, blow torches and chainsaws, this year’s doctors utilized knives, saws, drills, chisels, peelers and tools from the operating rooms in their efforts to win the coveted trophy.

In the end, it was a spine-chilling sculpture with a bit of creative showmanship that brought victory. This year’s winner was carved by Dr. Bremner, who slashed out an intricate rib cage for a skeleton that was transformed into a lung transplant recipient. The hair-raising scene was complete with an exciting delivery of balloon-donor lungs by the transplant team.

Though the contest illustrates the doctors’ creative abilities, the participating doctors also remind Valley residents about important Halloween safety tips.

“Not only is this a fun, team-building event for our staff, it also gives physicians an opportunity to raise awareness about their specialties – like the importance of a good team and selfless organ donors,” says Dr. Bremner. “As hospitals all over the nation are haunted by Halloween-related injuries this time of year, we also urge safety messaging.”

Surgeons pumpkin carvings

St. Joseph’s Norton Thoracic Institute lung transplant surgeon, Ross Bremner, MD, and fellow Norton lung transplant surgeon, Lara Schaheen, MD.

Jack-o-lantern carving tips include:

  • 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.

Trick-or-treating tips include:

  • 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.

Publish date: 

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Media Contact

Sara Patterson, External Communications Manager

p: (602) 406-3312

[email protected]