Dr. Kenneth Warner, M.D., is an associate professor of surgery at Tufts Medical School in Boston and a senior cardiothoracic surgeon at Tufts Medical Center, where he has practiced both pediatric and cardiac surgery since 1990.
He was born in Detroit and received his elementary education in archdiocese schools, including the Shrine of the Little Flower in Royal Oak and Our Lady Queen of Martyrs in Beverly Hills, before graduating from St. Regis Elementary School in Bloomfield Hills. He attended Brother Rice High School and received degrees in engineering and medicine from the University of Michigan.
He received his formal training in surgery and cardiothoracic surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Boston Children’s Hospital. During his tenure as chief of the division of cardiac surgery at Tufts, he helped build a busy and renowned heart transplant program in addition to establishing a successful training program to develop and educate future cardiac surgeons. Dr. Warner and his wife, Martha, a practicing anesthesiologist, reside in Needham, Mass., with their three children, Patrick, Audrey and Mary.
What was the last book you read?
I Had to Survive by Dr. Roberto Canessa and Pablo Vierci. After surviving a tragic plane crash, Canessa makes a dangerous trek across the Andes mountains to rescue himself and the remaining survivors. He used this heart-wrenching experience to spurhis career in medicine as a renowned pediatric cardiologist.
What is your biggest fear?
Complacency. As individuals and as a society, we need to constantly strive to improve our knowledge base and skills in order to fulfill our mission to spread the Gospel in the most meaningful way possible.
What is your biggest pet peeve?
The overutilization of cell phones. Effective and genuine communication oftentimes requires a personal conversation or a phone call.
Whom do you admire?
I most admire those who put aside their personal ambitions to help promote the health and well-being of others. Responsible parents, health-care professionals, members of the clergy and missionary workers are those who deserve our continued respect and support.
If you had unlimited resources, what would you do?
I would invest in means to abolish poverty, establish fair and just governance in all countries and develop programs to promote the health and education of all children throughout the world.
What is your favorite feast day?
The Feast of All Souls. This is a time to reflect and honor those who have passed before us.
What is your best quality?
I try to be an effective and compassionate listener. This is an important trait all parents and physicians need to cultivate.
What is the biggest risk you’ve taken?
While studying engineering, I decided to change my career path to pursue a career in medicine. I feel fortunate that I have been able to combine my education in engineering and medicine during our surgical procedures.
What is your earliest memory?
My father teaching me to ride a bicycle, a skill I continue to enjoy!
What virtue do you most admire in others?
Honesty. The ability to be open and honest with ourselves, our peers and our mentors is a virtue that was extolled by my parents and my Catholic education. Honesty, respect for others and integrity are the cornerstones of our daily personal and professional relationships.
What words do you use too much?
As a surgeon, two words we should always avoid are “Oops!” and “Darn!”
What gives you the most happiness?
From a career standpoint, the ability to repair damaged hearts brings professional satisfaction. On a more personal level, the love and support of my family and friends provides much personal happiness.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
I usually jog outdoors in the morning. During the week, I try and run with one of our pet dogs. On the weekends, my wife, Martha, will oftentimes join me.
What talent or skill do you wish you had?
Singing. As I child, I was not allowed to participate in the school choir, as I was unable to carry a tune. Fortunately, I chose a profession where I wear a mask most of the day, so my voice is kept quiet!
What are you most proud of?
I am most fortunate to have a wonderful and loving wife and three wonderful children.
What is your vision of heaven?
My humble view of an eternal heaven is where one is reunited with their loved ones in complete harmony and freedom.
What was your first job?
My first job was as a golf caddie. It proved to be a worthwhile educational experience in developing interpersonal skills when interacting with individuals with different backgrounds and professions.
What is your most cherished possession?
I consider my three children as my most cherished gifts.
What is your most embarrassing moment?
While receiving my high school diploma, I blew a bubble with chewing gum on the stage at Ford Auditorium. Although some in the audience were amused, members of my family were not.
What is your favorite hobby or pastime?
Although I enjoy recreational activities such as running, tennis, skiing and golf, I consider the time spent with my family and friends as the most rewarding experiences.
What do you value the most in your friends?
Loyalty. The mark of a true friend is someone who is willing to listen and offer advice and words of encouragement when faced with difficult circumstances.
Who is your favorite author?
Laura Hillenbrand. She has written several inspirational books, including Unbroken, which describes the harrowing experience of a downed Army Air Force lieutenant who ultimately survived a two-month ordeal at sea in the Pacific Ocean, followed by a brutal imprisonment during World War II.
Who is your fictional hero?
Which saint do you turn to for intercession the most?
How do you define a “missionary disciple”?
A missionary disciple is a person who — through his actions, words and example — spreads the message of the Gospel to others with sincerity and compassion.
What keeps you up at night?
Secularism. Although the separation of church and state is an important political principle, the current emphasis on minimizing our spiritual and religious convictions in our society is dangerous and creating an unhealthy culture of cynicism and pessimism. As a society, we need to once again establish the importance of our Christian values to provide a sense of hope and optimism in our everyday lives.
How do you want to be remembered when you die?
Hopefully I will be remembered as a devout Christian, someone deeply committed to his family and a dedicated physician.
What is your life motto or mantra?
“Mind over matter.” This is a lesson my parents instilled in us in at early age. No matter how great the challenge or adversity, with persistence, determination and the will of God, we can achieve our goals.
What makes you laugh?
Fortunately, my wife has a very good sense of humor, as do my children. In addition, I have learned to find, in some way, humor in the numerous misadventures that occur throughout my day. As a consequence, I am almost always in a good mood!
How do you define success?
Success is the ability to realize one’s calling in life and to then devote all of one’s energies and focus to advance their skills to fulfill their true potential. Oftentimes, the daily satisfaction of making the small steps during the journey is as important and fulfilling as achieving the final goal. As individuals, we — and not others — define our own personal success.