Dr. Paul Sasser’s ties to Conway run very deep. He comes from well-known and respected families in Horry County. His grandfather on his father’s side was a physician in Conway, while his maternal grandfather was Reuben Long, the solicitor. His father was the head football coach at Conway High School who went on to coach at colleges. Even though his education and training as a doctor took him all over the country, Dr. Sasser says the decision to move back and practice in Conway was just coming back home.
He originally thought he would go into orthopedics since he spent so much time on the sidelines with his father and saw numerous sports injuries, but says being a vascular surgeon was just right up his alley and was a better fit. Dealing with the arteries and veins he says requires a certain finesse, and he was drawn to the challenge of it. He says the intricate surgeries and procedures used to be his favorite part of his job, but not anymore. He says it’s just sitting down and talking to people. “I have the best patients here. They’re my family. I just love taking care of the people.” He truly loves those interactions and relationships.
Some of those relationships can stretch over years and come back in ways you don’t expect. Dr. Sasser told the story of a young man who had been living dangerously and was very badly injured in a motorcycle crash several years ago. Dr. Sasser said it was one of the worst trauma cases he’s ever seen. He operated on the young man and was able to get him stabilized and save his life. He said he told the young man’s mother that he knew the young man did not have any money, and he didn’t need to worry about paying him because God had a better plan. Years later when Hurricane Matthew hit, Dr. Sasser’s yard was destroyed with limbs and trees down with about $5,000 in damage. The man who came out from the tree service was the same young man from the motorcycle crash. He told Dr. Sasser he would clean up his yard for free. Dr. Sasser became choked up recalling, “He said, ‘I have a family, I go to church, and God had a better plan for me.’ So to me just taking care of people, he would have died, and then seeing him change is so worth when things like that happen.”
When asked what he would be doing if he wasn’t a physician, the answer came quickly. “No question, I’d be a TV bass fisherman. I can talk, and I can fish, and that’s my retirement plan.” Whether it’s freshwater or saltwater fishing, Dr. Sasser loves it. In his spare time he teaches fly fishing classes and spends time taking youth from the boys home and wounded warriors out on his boat for fishing excursions. He says he loves fishing because it’s something he, his wife, and four children can do as a family. His oldest son just graduated from medical school and his oldest daughter lives in New York and works as a nanny. His two younger children are 14 and 11. Talking about living on his grandfather’s old farm on the Waccamaw River he said, “Coming back home and living on the old farm and being on the river to me is just like coming back to my roots.” And those roots at Conway Medical Center include his wife whom he met when she was a dietitian at the hospital.
His desire to improve his patients’ lives are what led him to start the Coastal Vascular Institute. Anyone age 62 or older can call his office at Associates in Surgery (843) 347-7291 to set up a free screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm, carotid stroke prevention screening, and peripheral vascular screening on the legs, which is especially important for smokers, diabetics, and those with a family history. His number one piece of advice for his patients? Stop smoking, because he rarely has a patient who comes to him who is not a smoker. He tells patients quit smoking and do well so they don’t need him anymore, because as he said with a laugh, he’d rather go fishing anyway.
Written by Allyson Floyd