Former CNN Anchor – Research Brought Him To IU Health

He spent years reporting some of the most significant events in US history. David (Dave) Kirschner knows that the world isn’t as big as it might at first seem, and getting the best healthcare can be as close as one day of travel.

The assassination of the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King Jr.; the terrorist attacks of 9/11; and the devastation of Hurricane Katrina are all part of Kirschner’s career in journalism.

They all became more global than local – connected by world news reports.

Kirschner obtained his journalism degree from the University of Florida but has been interested in news and current events since his teen years.

“At age 13 I was fascinated with local disc jockeys and used to hang around the radio stations in Savannah, Ga. where I grew up,” said Kirschner who now lives in Atlanta. He was a disc jockey in college and then launched his career at Atlanta’s WSB-Radio.

“I was just out of college, 22-years-old, had been there two weeks when John F. Kennedy was shot. I thought I’d never cover any bigger news story and then 9/11 happened,” said Kirschner. He went on to work as an editor and anchor at CNN Radio Network, where he also reported the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He retired in 2008.

About the same time he had a prostate cancer scare.

“My family knows my history of research when it comes to medical issues,” said Kirschner, who has been married to his wife Elaine for almost 50 years. Together they have a son and a daughter and three grandchildren. “That scare was several years ago. My urologist didn’t give me much hope so my journalism skills kicked in and I plowed my way through the Internet and went to two other out-of-state doctors. It turned out to be nothing but my family knows I’ll get on a plane and go where the best doctors are,” said Kirschner, 77.

So when Kirschner was diagnosed with Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) he began researching the best treatment options. Also known as enlarged prostate, the condition causes the prostate to squeeze the urethra weakening the bladder. Over time the bladder can lose the ability to empty completely.  

Kirschner’s local urologist suggested a Transurethral Resection of the prostate (TURP). The procedure involves using a special instrument to trim away excess prostate tissue blocking the urine flow.

“My father had the TURP. It’s a major surgery and I swore I would not have it. I started researching alternatives and found HoLEP and Dr. Amy Krambeck at IU Health,” said Kirschner. IU Health was the first hospital in the United States to offer HoLEP.  Dr. James Lingeman brought the procedure from New Zealand in the late 90’s. IU Health also provides the largest training program for HoLEP in the U.S. taking two 2-year fellows a year, said Dr. Krambeck. She performs approximately 200-250 procedures per year or 15-20 cases per month.

Holmium Laser Prostrate Surgery (HoLep) is a modern alternative for patients with bladder outflow obstruction. It is less invasive and requires a shorter hospital stay than the TURP procedure.

“In general, to master the HoLEP procedure it requires specialized training.  Most physicians who offer HoLEP have done a 1-2 year fellowship training program, said Dr. Krambeck. “Other physicians who offer the surgery may have taken a mini fellowship or other types of specialized training.” She estimates fewer that 100 surgeons in the US perform HoLEP.

The best candidates are patients with an obstructing prostate, said Dr. Krambeck. HoLep can be performed in patients who have failed other procedures, such as TURP, Rezum, UroLift, and can also safely be performed in patients on blood thinners for other conditions, said Dr. Krambeck. “No prostate is too small or too large for HoLEP.”

After reading abstracts and researching the procedure, Kirschner set his mind to coming to IU Health as a patient of Dr. Krambeck.

Accompanied by his son, Kirschner flew to Indianapolis on Nov. 15, 2018 and after one night’s hospital stay, he returned home to Atlanta. “I was going to stay in Indianapolis a few more days to make sure I was fully recovered but Dr. Krambeck saw no reason for me to delay my return. I was doing fine. This is a doctor I didn’t see until the day before surgery, but she has it mapped out for people from out of town. Everything I had read and researched was true.”

Even for a man who has covered major events around the globe, the thought of a hospital stay was intimidating.

“I haven’t been in the hospital that much. The last time I had general anesthesia was 20 years ago. I was petrified,” said Kirschner.  “Before surgery I told Dr. Zachary Cohen, my anesthesiologist, about my fears and he listened and helped calm my nerves. When I woke up there was no nausea, no vomiting, no after effects,” said Kirschner. In a letter of appreciation, he listed each person who took part in his surgery from IV to recovery, including Dr. Krambeck’s assistant, nurse Ashley Ross.

“I have friends who go to the doctor and the doctor says ‘this is what we need to do’ and they do it. I’m a different breed of cat,” said Kirschner. “I have doctors who say to do something and then I go home and research. My job led me to do research so I’ve learned to get second and third opinions. I can’t say enough about IU Health. The staff was amazing and even the food was good. I feel like I hit the jackpot and I would refer anyone to IU Health and Dr. Krambeck.”

— By T.J. Banes, Journalist, IU Health.
   Reach Banes via email