Dr. Alejandro Badia had a long history of medicine from his family in Cuba. As an immigrant kid in New Jersey, he was partly raised by my grandparents, who lived adjacent to him since his parents were doing what he calls “the immigrant shuffle.” “My parents were working long hours, and my dad was restarting engineering school at NJIT in Newark,” said Badia.
“I spent much time with my paternal grandmother, from Valencia, Spain, who had truly debilitating rheumatoid arthritis. I recall when she had her knee surgery (I think a replacement) and later, when I was only eight years old, accompanied her and my grandfather to see a hand surgeon in NYC at Columbia-Presbyterian.”
This hand surgeon turned out to be Bob Carroll, one of only two hand surgeons at that time since it was a burgeoning specialty. “Well, 20 years later, I learned that my main mentor, Joseph Imbriglia, would later train under this mentor. Dr. Carroll was essentially MY grandfather of hand surgery.”
That experience was etched in his mind as he read “The Making of a Surgeon” at age 11 and later again at 16 before applying to college premed programs. “Despite my modest public school education, I managed to gain acceptance to Cornell, and the rest is history,” he said. “I was involved in a research study at Cornell Med in NYC, where I had to perform microsurgery on a rat carotid artery. I realized I had an affinity for working under the microscope. Later, while at NYU med, I saw that Orthopedics was the specialty that best suited my personality: fast-paced, the ability to truly cure people, and undergoing a major wave of innovation. There was also an affinity to fitness and sports suited my lifestyle”.
During his surgical residency at the famed Bellevue Hospital, where the author of “Making of a Surgeon” book also trained decades earlier, Dr. Badia confirmed his specific interest in surgery of the hand.