graphic image with white stethoscope icon that has it's cord shaped into a heart. a headshot of a female physician with long, black hair is included in a round frame

Meet UTMB Health's newest pediatric surgeon, Dr. Carmen Mora

When a child undergoes surgery, the pediatric surgeon’s impact goes beyond the operating room – it can potentially influence the trajectory of the child’s entire future.

This is a privilege and a responsibility that UTMB Health's newest pediatric surgeon, Dr. Maria Carmen Mora, does not take for granted.

headshot image of utmb health pediatric surgeon dr. maria carmen mora - she is wearing a white coat over a blush colored top and has chest-length black hair split down the middle

“I have always enjoyed taking care of kids. They are so resilient,” she says. “The long-term outcomes – how you can change a patient’s whole outlook on life and how they're going to function in society – make it the most rewarding.”

A Houston native, Dr. Mora has completed extensive training since her graduation from Texas A&M University College of Medicine. She completed her general surgery residency at Baystate Medical Center (now affiliated with the University of Massachusetts).

She went on to pursue specialized training through fellowships in Pediatric Surgical Critical Care at the University of Tennessee – Le Bonheur Children’s, Pediatric Minimally Invasive Surgery at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and Pediatric Surgery at UCSF-Benioff Children’s in California.

“I went south, northeast, west – everywhere, so I've gotten a really good breadth of different perspectives in pediatric surgery from different parts of the country,” Dr. Mora says.

She brings her broad skill set back to Texas with the goal of treating a wide spectrum of pediatric surgery cases.

“I wanted to join a practice where I could utilize all of the skills that I have acquired throughout my entire time training,” Dr. Mora says.

One area of focus for Dr. Mora is minimally invasive surgery. Her arrival at UTMB Health coincides with the beginning of a robotics program in pediatric surgery. With her training and certification in robotic surgery, she is eager to help develop the program over the next couple of years.

Robotics may be utilized to perform a wide variety of procedures, she says, including splenectomy, fundoplication, gallbladder removal, pelvic surgery, colorectal surgery and some thoracic surgeries. Patients over 10 kilos are typically able to benefit from robotic surgery, while a laparoscopic approach is best for the smallest neonates, she says.

Citing a strong interest in outcomes, she recognizes the opportunities that come with practicing in an academic institution, where research and clinical care teams work together to improve outcomes. She appreciates that the culture is defined by constant efforts to improve and stay abreast of what is evolving in medicine.

Outcomes among pediatric patients, Dr. Mora notes, tend to be better than adults – partly, at least, because parents are more likely to follow orders for their children than for themselves.

Working with pediatric patients was a goal of Dr. Mora’s when she began medical school, but at the time she envisioned herself becoming a general pediatrician. Now, as a pediatric surgeon, she gets to work with the patient population she enjoys, but in a different way.

“The surgeries themselves are life changing,” she says. “Even if it’s not a technically complicated operation, the impact on the patient’s life makes it very rewarding.”


View Maria Carmen Mora's profile

Dr. Maria Carmen Mora uses her extensive training, multicultural proficiency and compassionate nature to provide top-tier care that makes a lasting impact on the lives of young patients.

UTMB Health Pediatric Surgical Services

The above story was adapted from the February edition of the UTMB Faculty Group Practice Newsletter, which is a monthly resource for UTMB and community clinicians.