Surgeon, Pilot, Marathoner — Dr. Lee Does it All

If you ask Dr. Bothwell Lee, flying an aircraft and performing brain surgery are quite similar: both require a gentle touch and continuous feedback, and both have very high stakes.

“The brain is opaque and you can’t palpate it to diagnose it, or to operate on it unlike, say, the abdomen,” said Lee, Peninsula Regional Medical Center’s newest neurosurgeon. “It’s like flying through the clouds when you can’t see out the windshield.”

Dr. Lee joined the PRMC team in November 2017, and his resume is quite impressive. Not only is he a skilled instrument-rated pilot and an accomplished athlete – he has completed 40 marathons – his scholarly achievements are extensive.

A native of Augusta, Ga., Lee left home when he was 17 years old to pursue a career in medicine. He was the self-proclaimed “black sheep” of the family, as he came from seven generations of attorneys.

Dr. Lee attended Princeton University and Oxford University and studied at Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he trained a year behind Dr. Ben Carson – a nationally recognized neurosurgeon, author and cabinet member. Dr. Lee then trained for six years at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he served as Chief Resident in Neurosurgery.

He joined PRMC after spending most of his career in private practice, and said he couldn’t be more excited about the transition.

“It’s nice to be with good, solid people,” he said. “This is more restful and peaceful than being in a big city. It’s just a wonderful balance.”

There are many reasons why Dr. Lee loves his job.

“The brain is the most complicated thing in the known universe, and it has the most interesting future as far as what is still to be learned about it,” he said. “Plus, patients need a lot of emotional support. I like to talk to them and offer reassurance.”

Dr. Lee, whose undergraduate degree is in electrical engineering, said he’s always been intrigued by the way the brain operates.

“It’s fascinating to understand how the nerves code and transmit information,” he said.

While Dr. Lee enjoys meeting with patients in his office and discussing all their treatment options, he most enjoys responding to emergencies. In fact, he was recognized by the president of Delta Airlines two years in a row for saving lives on two different commercial flights. These days, his emergencies take place in the hospital.

“I love thinking quickly and leading a team,” he said.

Dr. Lee welcomes new patients with problems in the brain, neck, low back or carpal tunnel at his office, Peninsula Regional Neurosurgery, in Salisbury.

When he’s not saving lives as a neurosurgeon, or soaring high above the clouds, or training for his next marathon, Dr. Lee can be found tickling the ivories, weight lifting or raising money for a cause.

While he misses the Georgia pine trees and night train whistles in the distance that he grew up with, Dr. Lee feels that moving to Salisbury is like finally coming home.

“The people here are so friendly and receptive,” he said.

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