NJ Endocrine Surgeon Always up for an Adventure

Dr. Patel

December 05, 2022

When he can, Dhaval Patel, M.D., FACS, likes to get out of town and see the world. He has traveled to more than 20 countries. He summited the Grand Teton in Wyoming on August 22, 2017—the day before the solar eclipse and his birthday.

“I like to mix it up. I like adventure, but I like to go to museums and fine dining,” says Dr. Patel, an endocrine surgeon with Hackensack Meridian Health Medical Group. But adventure does seem to be the preference—having not only gone on an African Safari for his father's 70th birthday, but an arctic expedition, as well.

When Dr. Patel isn’t climbing mountains or experiencing earthly extremes, he enjoys reading. “I would say Heart of Darkness is one of my favorite books,” he says. “I also love Anna Karenina or anything by Penelope Fitzgerald.” He also enjoys playing video games and hanging out with his dog, Bella, in his down time.

Why did you choose endocrine surgery?

I like puzzles, and I like figuring things out. Endocrine surgery is a lot about putting all the pieces together and working with your hands. I get to do these very elegant operations. I have to put all the pieces together to determine who needs surgery and who doesn’t. I appreciate its complexity.

What has been your most memorable or rewarding experience as an endocrine surgeon, and why?

My most memorable or rewarding experience as an endocrine surgeon has been removing a paraganglioma—a type of neuroendocrine tumor that forms near certain blood vessels and nerves outside of the adrenal glands—that had grown in between the aorta and inferior vena cava in a young boy who was about 11 years old. It was an operation that required fine dissection and was a challenge operating between those two major vascular structures. It was both memorable and rewarding because of the challenge and the great outcome. He did great and left the hospital with minimal pain.

What do you love most about travel, and what is your favorite place you have visited?

I like learning about new cultures, people and places. I enjoy history—especially when you go aboard to countries that are older, you really get to experience the historical perspectives of things. I like to hike and go on adventures. Chile and Portugal are two of my favorite places. Hiking in Chile’s Patagonia was beautiful, and I really like Portugal’s port wine and relaxed feel. I still have a huge list of places yet to visit. I would like to see the pyramids in Egypt and visit China. While I’ve been to India, I haven’t traveled outside of where my parents are from, so I would like to do that, as well.

If you could have dinner with a celebrity past or present, who would it be and why?

I would choose Richard Feynman. He really lived life to the fullest and had a lot of different interests. Even though he was a famous physicist, he played the bongos and loved dancing. I appreciate his way of thinking and approach to life and learning. He once said, “If you can’t explain an idea to an 8-year-old, you don’t understand it.” He just had a great zest for life. I’d invite Brad Pitt and Chris Pratt, too, just for fun because they seem like cool guys.

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