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Super Dads Paul Chai

As a pediatric cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon, Paul Chai, MD, spends his days at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital operating on kids born with congenital heart defects. As you can imagine, Dr. Chai’s job is both rewarding and stressful. To decompress, he enjoys spending time with his family, watching the Rays play and fishing in the flats of Tampa Bay. He’s been married for six years to wife Suzanne, and the couple has welcomed two children, 6-year-old Natalie and 1-year-old Elena.

What’s the most rewarding part of being a dad?
Being able to enjoy the simple activities of daily life, such as giving my kids a bath or reading to them at night, is truly amazing. And I’m having a lot of fun doing things with the kids that I also enjoyed doing as a child.

What is your favorite thing to do with your kids? 

Just simply spending time with them. I love swimming and fishing with my older child, and I’m having a great time coaching her soccer team. I love giving my little one a bath and having her fall asleep in my arms. It’s so comforting to watch her, and I find myself staring at my sleeping angel long after she falls asleep in my arms.

What is the most challenging part of fatherhood?

Finding the time to be where you want to be – with them! Not being home when they wake up in the morning because of an emergency surgery in the middle of the night doesn’t happen often, but when it does it’s certainly no fun. Like most parents, it’s a constant challenge to give 100% to all areas of my life.

As a father, how do you view your responsibilities?

I want to be a positive role model for my children and to make sure that they know they are loved and that I’ll always be here for them. I also think it’s important to expose my children to as much as I can so that they might find something they are passionate about.

What advice would you give other fathers?

Whatever you want to do with your kids, do it now. Whatever you want to say to your kids, say it now. Don’t wait for tomorrow.

It is often difficult to balance a career with spending time with your family. How do you deal with this and make time for them?

Having children has made me appreciate my time more. It’s not always easy, but I definitely strive to do the most with the time I have.

What is something people don’t know about you?

If I hadn’t become a pediatric heart surgeon, I would have loved to be a photographer for National Geographic. I also play lead guitar in “Woosah,” a rock and roll band which is composed primarily of pediatric heart surgeons.

What makes you happy? 

My wife and kids being happy definitely makes me happy. And there are no words to describe the joy of being able to look into the eyes of anxious parents and tell them that their child’s surgery was a success. Being able to give other parents the chance to spend a lifetime with their child is simply amazing.

Where is your favorite place to go in Tampa?

Tropicana Field. Let’s go Rays!

Super Dads – Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine

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