Harald Lindberg, M. D.

Harald Lindberg
(© Marit Haugdahl)

Who are you and what do you do in your professional life?

I am Head of Congenital Cardiac Surgery at Rikshospitalet University Hospital, Oslo. Since August, 2008, I have also been Professor in congenital cardiac surgery at the University of Oslo. I was previously a surgeon in Sweden and the USA.

What motivates you to work with patients with congenital heart defects?

My main motivation is the satisfaction of being able to help patients who will remain seriously ill without treatment, but who can have a good life with a satisfactory form of therapy. My work is extremely diverse and challenging. Children are easy to be with—they say things as they are.

What do you like best about your job, and what would you like to improve?

The most fun part of my job is the children who I work with. They are so natural and straight forward. I love the variation of my work and the challenges that I face every day. No two days are the same. One area that needs to be improved is the life-long follow-up of patients with a congenital heart defect—the importance of this follow-up care cannot be stressed enough. I would also like not to be bothered as much by the economists with their excel-sheets as often as we are!

What are the largest differences between treatment for congenital heart disease in Sweden and Norway?

The treatment in Norway and Sweden for such defects is almost identical. However, Sweden has better conditions for research than we do, and they are very well organised. Both countries have a lot to learn from the USA, where the medical personnel are more stimulated to perform, since hard work and accomplishments are rewarded financially. The notion of equality is not as prominent in the USA as in Europe, and there is no principle of “just who do you think you are”. I like that!

Recently, you have been educating a new generation of heart surgeons for patients with congenital heart disease. Why is that work so important to you?

It is not important to me personally, but it is important for the profession, for Rikshospitalet University Hospital and for Norway as a nation. The fact that the University of Oslo have just appointed their first Professor in heart surgery for congenital heart disease is very important, because we were about to fall behind other countries. Taping the surgical procedure is a good way of educating people. I make instruction videos for teaching purposes, and I use the tapes when I attend national and international congresses.

Do you have any special hobbies outside of work?

My most important hobby is wine. I read about it, I buy it and I enjoy drinking it (except when I am on call)! I have my own wine cellar at home. When I travel, I familiarise myself with the local wine in advance—this is a hobby that I can enjoy all year around. In the summer, I play golf as often as I can. I find concentrating on the little white ball a great way to relax mentally. My ideal holiday is golf in the morning, a visit to a wine cellar in the afternoon and a gourmet meal in the evening. Also, a ride on the German Autobahn travelling far beyond the Norwegian speed limit makes for the day perfect. I love speed. I also love classical music. Romanticism is my favourite!

The interview was conducted by Marit Haugdahl.