Dr. Iyer's Story: Robotics Reducing the Burden of a Life in the Cath Lab

A film about a doctor and a robot working together to save lives.

The assignment was to make a film about Dr. Vijay Iyer, one of the world’s leading interventional cardiologists.  The problem was reaching Vijay. Dr. Iyer, at the top of his field and his career, is in constant demand to save lives.  

Our client, Corindus Vascular Robotics in Waltham, Massachusetts had given us a deadline and the clock was ticking. The folks at Corindus had assured us that Vijay was onboard to work with us.  They gave us his cell number where we reached him once and, during a few brief seconds between surgeries, he told us he would get back to us as soon as he had a moment.

We sent Vijay detailed shot lists and proposed schedules by e-mail.

“Call me at 11 tomorrow,” his text read.

At 11am we got only his voice mail.

Then at 1:30pm came this text: “Sorry I was stuck in surgery. Call me at the end of the day. ”

We had airline tickets, hotel, and car reservations and still we couldn’t nail down Vijay. We tried for days but never connected.  It occurred to us that, perhaps, Vijay’s days never end.

With no real plan in place, we were considering rescheduling the shoot when in stepped Allison Kupferman, the Jacobs Institute’s effervescent Communications & Public Affairs Director. She had also tried to reach Vijay with no luck.  “Come to Buffalo,” she urged us. “I promise I will find a way to get to Vijay.”

We got off the plane, rented a van, loaded all the gear into a storage room at the hospital, and with Allison by our side we waited and waited for Vijay.

What a place to wait!  Kaleida Health's new Gates Vascular Institute facility was conceived by a group of world-renowned vascular physicians and scientists, industry partners, and venture capitalists, along with architect Mehrdad Yazdani. It is a layer cake of university, research center and hospital, and it looks like a set for a futuristic movie.

Through the glass wall of a multi-story atrium we were able to look down on the nerve center of the innovative surgical floor.  Every now and then, we could see Vijay zip by as he moved from one operating room to the next.  About 7pm we decide to call it a day and headed to the hotel. Allison stuck it out and eventually tackled Vijay after his last surgery.  Whatever Allison said, the next morning we began shooting. It turned out Vijay actually did want to work with us, we just had to jump on to his fast moving train.

Allison had secured access to the cath labs where Vijay performs his procedures. Like Vijay and the hospital staff, we suited up in lead vests, aprons and collars to protect ourselves from radiation. It didn't seem like much weight at first, but after 30 minutes we started to experience tiredness and pain in our backs, necks and hips.  We were getting to actually feel the heart of the story we were there to tell.

Vijay‘s wearing lead and bending over patients every day had given him serious spinal injuries requiring four back surgeries and threatening his career. Our film shows how a Corpath Vascular Robot can get a doctor safely away from the radiation and minimize the need to wear lead. With the help of an enthusiastic ambulance crew, an early rising physical therapist, and the CEO of the Jacobs Institute, we pieced the story together in just few days.

Client: Corindus Vascular Robotics
Producer: Cary Wolinsky
Director/Editor: Yari Wolinsky