Andres M. Perez, DPM
Orthopedic surgeon, Orlando Foot and Ankle Clinic
Andres Perez has known since he was in high school in Bogota, Columbia, that he wanted to become a physician. He always had a desire to study medicine, he said, and his parents impressed upon him their desire to have at least one physician in the family.
Perez followed through, graduating from medical school at Xavier University in Bogota. And the fact that his younger brother became a dentist was a bonus milestone in the Perez household, where dad Leonidas was an accountant and mom Elvira Gomez was a homemaker.
But it was not until after he completed residencies in orthopedic, sports and trauma medicine in Sao Paulo, Brazil and Bogota that Perez decided to put his best foot forward, so to speak, pursuing his current specialty in Miami as a podiatrist and reconstructive foot and ankle surgeon.
“After almost 10 years in practice in Colombia, we decided to move to the USA and get back in school again,” said Perez, 47. The “we” he referred to is his wife, Martha Melendez-Perez, an ear, nose and throat physician. He concluded his required extra training for 6 years in the Miami area, while his wife was “dedicated to the growth of my family,” he said. The couple have three children, two girls and a boy, now aged 17, 15 and 10, respectively. “Little by little,” Perez said, “we got back to the level we had before,” referencing his medical practice in South America.
Although Perez had family in Miami, in 2006 he accepted a position at the Orlando Foot and Ankle Clinic. “I was looking for a city that was more quiet. I loved visiting (Orlando) and it was great to see how people who work here live. I have met many interesting people,” he said, including the partners at the clinic who “liked my experience. They wanted someone with maturity and experience, and I was looking for something similar,” he said.
Perez does many of his surgeries at Dr. P. Phillips Hospital in Orlando. “I like that hospital. It’s a good feel for me and my patients,” he said, “because the outcomes are good” and the hospital administration and staff have given him the support and resources he needs to do his best work.
Perez’ work at Orlando is varied and includes ankle and foot reconstructions both from trauma and disease cases. “We see a lot of diabetic patients who have circulation and sensitivity loss,” he said. I work very closely with vascular surgeons to increase circulation so we can save limbs” from amputation, he said.
Perez also enjoys the sports medicine aspect of his practice because many of the patients are young. “I love helping the kids,” said the physician who played team volleyball when he was in high school.
Perez, an active member of the First Baptist Church of Orlando, said he also “loves the opportunity to serve on medical missions to bring hope to communities that need the help I can give them.” He traveled to the Dominican Republic in November, near the Haitian border. There were many orthopedic deformity and trauma cases, he said, and many patients had come from Haiti. He is going back to the Dominican Republic later this year, he said, to oversee a triage in preparation for a trip in February when he will perform more pro bono surgeries.
Perez said he and his wife, who is developing a home healthcare business, are very involved in their children’s activities, which include sports. But the watchful parents also are encouraging the youngsters’ interest in the healthcare industry. The two oldest are considering medical school, he said, and the youngest has his sights set on being a specialized businessman. “He tells me ‘I will take care of all your business,’” Perez laughed. Regardless of what profession his children aspire, Perez said, the important thing is that they “try to be excellent in anything they want to do.”
His responsibilities at work and at home consume much of his free time, but when he can, Perez said he likes to play golf, take his family to the beach, “or a getaway with my wife.”
Asked if he has a goal or idea that he has not had time to pursue, Perez said he would welcome “the opportunity to create a new surgical technique or device” that would “improve results and improve the quality of life” for his patients.