Hackensack, NJ,
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Surgeon Gives Back to Safety Education

John LoCurto knew a boy with polio while growing up in Bergen County, NJ. He wore heavy braces on both legs and struggled to do normal childhood activities.

“He would attempt to ride his bicycle but would fall over with the braces,” said LoCurto. “He was a tough kid. He never accepted help from others, but one couldn’t help but feel sympathy for him.”

This boy was the catalyst for LoCurto to begin his journey to become a doctor.

LoCurto volunteered in the Emergency Room at Hackensack Hospital during high school and became an emergency room technician. While he went to medical school for orthopedic surgery, he soon shifted gears. Dr. LoCurto, MD, FACS realized he wanted to be more involved with saving lives, and changed his career to trauma/critical care.

“Trauma saves lives, it is challenging and has quick rewards,” Dr. LoCurto said. “I can be sleeping in the on-call room and the next thing I know, I’m fighting to save the life of a young adult with a knife stuck in his heart. I’ve seen victims of car crashes, burns, major falls, gunshots and stabbings – every disaster imaginable.”

“Fortunately, we’re making strides and have seen a drop in drunk driving-related deaths” Dr. LoCurto said. “However, more than one person is killed every hour of the day from a drunk driving crash. Every year and a half, we kill more people on our roads than all the American soldiers in the Vietnam conflict. It’s war on our roadways.”

“Drug usage is also a major problem,” he shared. “Drug deaths have doubled over the years and many victims are under the age of 18. I think we should begin developing and presenting educational programs to younger students – maybe starting as early as six years of age to make a long lasting impact.”

When he is teaching medical students and residents he stresses, “It’s a privilege to do what we do. We meet people and their families at their worst and it’s our responsibility to save them. We dive into the middle of people’s lives, are responsible for what’s most valuable to them and hope to hand the loved one back to them in one piece.”

As for the boy with polio? “I get choked up thinking about him,” said Dr. LoCurto, “But he’s doing well. He eventually shed the braces. He now works in construction and is married with children. I’m thankful he influenced me to become a doctor.”