In the new Netflix four-part docuseries, The Surgeon’s Cut, which premiered Dec. 9, each episode follows the life and career of a world-renowned surgeon who is performing incredible and innovative procedures in their respective medical field.
During the series’ second episode, viewers are introduced to Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, a neurosurgeon and professor of neurosurgery at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida.
“I think it is an amazing gift that I am given every single day, that my patients allow me to use my hands to be able to navigate their brains and to use my own brain to defeat their diseases,” Quiñones-Hinojosa says during the episode. “That, to me, is the beauty of what I do.”
Quiñones-Hinojosa was born in a small town outside of Mexicali, Mexico, where he says there was always a physical wall separating the United States and Mexico. “I grew up as a little boy in the shadow of this barrier,” he says. “The threshold of a new frontier for me.”
Quiñones-Hinojosa left Mexico for the United States when he was 19. In the show, he revisits the Mexicali area for the first time in 33 years and sees that not much has changed. During these scenes, he remembers living in poverty, but also remembers how his mother would inspire the family to imagine bigger things for themselves.
“There was some sadness and sometimes we had next to nothing,” he explains. “But at the end of the day, we had a lot of love and a lot of hope and…a roof.”
It was on that roof where his mother would take him some nights to look out onto the stars. There, Quiñones-Hinojosa thinks is where the scientist in him was born.
During the episode, viewers are taken behind the scenes into the doctor’s operating room to see him at work. This includes removing a large brain tumor from a patient. “The brain wasn’t meant to be opened,” he says. “It’s not natural, what we do. It’s us, defying nature.”
Quiñones-Hinojosa says his work as a neurosurgeon reminds him of the hikes he would take with his grandfather near the mountains in Mexicali. While it could’ve been dangerous, his grandfather,
Tata Juan, would always encourage him to go a little off the trail. Before his grandfather died, Quiñones-Hinojosa, who was 16 at the time, remembers him asking about the times they spent together hiking.
“That was a symbol to me,” Quiñones-Hinojosa says. “A calling to continually explore the world and places that are challenging.”