Antonio Aponte-Feliciano, M.D.
Academic Role: Assistant Professor
Faculty Appointment(s) and Affiliations:
Everything started when I was a second-year medical student. Up to that time life was beautiful and I thought we could cure every disease. My dad got sick at home, and I encouraged him to go to the hospital. On arrival in the ED he was looking cyanotic. Someone in green scrubs jumped in the bed, asked for the airway equipment, and intubated him. His blood gas had the highest PCO2 I have ever seen: 102 mm Hg. I asked who the person in the green scrubs was. “He is one of the anesthesiologists,” a nurse answered. After thirty days in the ICU, cor pulmonale, acute renal failure, respiratory failure secondary to his COPD exacerbation, and a tracheostomy, he survived.
I met the former chair of the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Puerto Rico, who was my Practice-Based Learning instructor, and he invited me to shadow him while on call. It was a hands-on experience, I started to enjoy the field, and of course my father’s savior was a member of the specialty. My interest kept increasing as I learned more and more procedures.
When I was a third-year medical student on my official anesthesia rotation, one day at the end of a long day I found eight voicemail messages waiting for me. My father’s tracheostomy was clogged they were not able to ventilate him and he expired. At that point I decided to be an airway management expert and to make sure that nothing like this ever happened to a patient under my care.
I later learned that as an anesthesiologist I could specialize in critical care medicine. I could help people return to their previous lives after disease or trauma had changed them. Every day when I come to work, I remember what my father went through. My goal is to give every patient the best opportunity for recovery and survival. My goal is to teach the residents and fellows to do the same.
M.D., University of Puerto Rico, 2003
University of Massachusetts, Residency in Anesthesiology, 2005-2008
University of Florida, Fellowship in Critical Care Medicine, 2008-2009