NBC Shadows Real-Life Doctor on HEARTBEAT
NBC shadows worldrenowned cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Kathy Magliato in “Heartbeat,” and executives gave the winter TCAs a look at this unique series.
The “Heartbeat” panel consisted of executive producers Amy Brenneman and Brad Silberling, executive producer and showrunner Jill Gordon, co-executive producer Dr. Kathy Magliato, and actors Don Hany, Melissa George, Dave Annable, D.L. Hughley, J Louis Mills, Shelley Conn, Jamie Kennedy, and Maya Erskine.
Kathy, tell us, first of all, what got you interested in being a doctor in the first place, and what got you interested in this very specific difficult specialty that you ended up in?
DR. KATHY MAGLIATO: My mom and dad aren’t physicians. In fact, I’m the first and only physician in my family, and I grew up on a farm in Upstate New York in apple country, in the Hudson Valley. So the inspiration to be a doctor came from me, and as cliché as this might sound, I honestly wanted to be a doctor so I could help people. I wanted to dedicate my life to helping others. It is an honor and a privilege to be a physician, to be able to help another human being, a stranger, every day. To save lives is an incredible calling. I did a cardiac case where I got to put my hands around a heart to help another surgeon who had a patient who was bleeding out, and I’m holding the human heart. It’s like walking on the moon. How many people get to do this? I’m incredibly inspired, and I said to this surgeon, ‘Wait. Do you get to do this every day?’ And he said, ‘Do I get to do what every day?’ I said, ‘Do you get to hold a human heart every day?’ And he said, ‘Well, of course I do. I’m a heart surgeon.’ He just went back to saving the guy’s life, and I was like, ‘I’m done. I’m in. I want to do it.’
So that was honestly why I became a heart surgeon. I’ll tell you, though, if I had a dime for every time someone told me I couldn’t be a heart surgeon because I couldn’t be tough enough since I was a woman, I would be a very rich girl and never have to be a heart surgeon.
How many years was it from the time you started college to the time you finished your residency or whatever that made you officially a thoracic surgeon?
DR. KATHY MAGLIATO: It’s about 17 years. It’s four years of college, four years of medical school, and nine years of surgical training. I did three years of research, then eventually specialized in heart and lung transplantation and artificial heart technology. So I’m actually subspecialized within cardiac surgery to specifically do transplants.
Joshua and Dave, when you played somebody previously who was in the same profession, do you take things with you from that role or do you wipe the slate clean and just start all over with this specific character?
DAVE ANNABLE: I actually think I’m very fortunate that I did my homework, per se, in playing a doctor in the last series I did, because I was able to bring in the knowledge I had and any appreciation I had. I was able to go to Cedars and stand in on an actual liver transplant, and I was fortunate to go on rounds with the doctor during the day and meet the patient. It’s crazy how they do this every day, but it’s something I’ll never forget.
She was all yellow, and she was holding her husband’s hand. She was crying, and she had weeks to live. And I’m standing in this room, and it was so heavy because it was so real. I left the hospital and got a call about two hours later from the doctor that said, ‘We found a liver. Do you want to come back and watch the surgery?’ It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen in my life, and for eight hours I stood and watched the surgeon be Superman and save this girl. Two weeks later, he sent me a text that said he was releasing her from the hospital. It was just unlike anything I’ve ever seen. I feel really lucky that I’ve been sort of immersed in this world for whatever it is. As an actor, I think it’s great that you get to peek into all these different lives and professions. He’s [the doctor] a smart, brilliant man, and just saving a life was really something I’ll never forget.
“Heartbeat” premieres on March 22 with a special preview at 10/9c before moving to Wednesdays at 8/7c on NBC.