the first Iraqi counterattack missile flew over his head in
Kuwait last year, it took CNN correspondent Sanjay Gupta a few
minutes to figure out what was happening.
the months of drills, there started to be some complacency.
But when it happens for real, there is no complacency,
says Gupta, who was waiting in a staging area when hostilities
began. We were in the bunker right after that. We were
in our protective suits in nine seconds flat. We were all scared.
You never knew if youd been slimed with chemical
or biological agents.
an Emory neurosurgeon who covers medical affairs for CNN, was
in Kuwait to document the work of the U.S. Navys front-line
medical unit, the Devil Docs. He received national
attention when he operated on an injured Iraqi child.
didnt intend to work as a doctor while there, but there
was no neurosurgeon in the field, Gupta says. So
they started saying, If someone gets shot in the head,
well just call Sanjay. Then it happenedfive
first was a two-year-old Iraqi boy, who was wounded at a marine
checkpoint south of Baghdad. Despite Guptas efforts, the
boy died. Children are always the hardest, he says.
They are clearly the innocent bystanders in all this.
also operated on two Iraqi combatants, and two coalition force
members. One, a 25-year-old marine, had been shot in the head
they brought him in, one of the Devil Docs detected a weak pulse.
He had a horrible gunshot wound and was a messall sandy
and dirty. I removed the bullet, cleaned up the blood, and put
him back together as best I could, Gupta said. Then
he was shipped out to Germany.
when a reporter from the marines hometown paper called
to say she was doing a feature article on him, Gupta discovered
that he was alive and well.
doing great. Hes a totally cool kid back in L.A. I just
spent a few days with him and his family, says Gupta.
Theres a little bit of left-side weakness but thats
in Atlanta, Gupta, assistant professor of neurosurgery at Emory
and chief of neurosurgery at Grady Memorial Hospital, performs
brain surgery every week. He faces tumors and aneurisms, blunt
trauma from car accidents, penetrating traumas from gunshot
wounds and stabbings.
a doctor is my greatest passion and brings me the most satisfaction,
says the thirty-four-year-old Gupta. Ive spent half
my life training to be a neurosurgeon.
he also values his role as a medical correspondent for the health
news unit at CNN, where he reports on breaking medical news
and is featured in such segments as Paging Dr. Gupta, Weekend
House Call, and Your Health.
first, I was really terrible, but I have grown into it,
Gupta says. Being on air allows me a unique opportunity
to provide a public health service. Now, when people come up
to me on the street and say things like, I saw your segment
on LASIK surgery and decided to have it, I realize Ive
developed a relationship with my regular viewers.
fact, Gupta has become a celebrity of sorts, with an unauthorized
website devoted to photos and news clips about him maintained
by fans who call themselves the Gupta girls. He
also was featured in People magazines Sexiest
Men issue last year.
celebrity is hard to prepare for, says Gupta, who at first
turned down the offer to be listed among such heartthrobs as
Johnny Depp and Colin Farrell. It is what it is.
stays in shape by jogging with his seventy-five-pound Weimaraner,
Bosco, and enjoys driving his Jaguar XK8. He has written a pilot
for a television series about his experiences in Iraq that he
just sold to ABC. The series, he says, is M.A.S.H.
joining Emory and CNN, Gupta was a neurosurgeon at the University
of Tennessees Semmes-Murphy Clinic. While serving as a
White House Fellow in Hillary Clintons office in 1997,
he was asked by former CNN president Tom Johnson (also a fellow)
to join the network.
says the breadth of his experiences, from reporting on anthrax
and SARS to operating on casualties of war in tents, has enhanced
gone from seeing things through a microscopequite literally,
during surgeryto a telescope, he says. Now
I can see the larger picture and broader horizons.M.J.L.