Dr. William Peper is a man of many talents – pilot, winemaker, guitarist. There’s also his day job as a pioneering cardiovascular surgeon in Central Texas.
After nearly 4,000 heart surgeries in more than 25 years of venous and arterial surgical experience, Peper (it is pronounced “pepper”) is enjoying a somewhat more relaxed pace as a vein specialist at his Vein and Vascular Surgery practice along Highway 6.
His clinic is well-situated in a building that he shares with his wife’s business, NuGenesis Medical Spa, and Vein Care, which provides cosmetic services by Amy Peper, a former nurse at Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center. Her husband is on-site to answer medical questions and oversee patient care.
The practice has evolved over the years since Peper began in the mid-1980s. The Dallas native, who graduated from the University of Texas at Austin and UT Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, honed his skills in Detroit and the Cleveland Clinic, one of the leading heart hospitals. Before coming to Waco in 1992 he helped found the heart department at Queen of the Valley Medical Center in the Napa Valley, where his love for winemaking took hold.
He came to Waco and performed Hillcrest’s first open-heart surgery, as well as other firsts in Central Texas, such as an off-pump coronary bypass surgery (where surgery is done without stopping the heart). He did that surgery in the Ukraine in 1998 when he and other Waco doctors went to train physicians in that country.
It’s his experience with heart and lung surgery that serves his patients well in his new role.
“Vein disease is really more prevalent than arterial disease, but it’s the arteries that get the attention,” he said. “There’s a huge number of patients who need venous care and few people around who really understand veins.”
Peper said he doesn’t miss the long hours and 200-plus heart surgeries a year he’d average at Hillcrest and Providence. Missing kids’ birthday parties and soccer games was the norm during those years.
“You do feel like you’re missing out on a lot,” he said.
His current practice gives him the chance to get to know his patients more closely, though he remains busy a couple of days at Methodist Dallas Medical Center each week.
‘I am busy and I like it,” he said. “I’m pretty fit and I want to stay active as long as I can.”
But he enjoys the serenity of living in Crawford and the friendlier confines and less traffic of Waco.
He and Amy have been a little more active lately than they would like. A busted water heater in a neighboring office flooded their building earlier this year, and they are just resuming some normalcy again. A renovation project at their home will soon have them living in their barn for several months.
“We have very good primary care physicians here in Waco, and I’m honored when they feel comfortable sending patients to surgical specialists like me,” Peper said. “I never want to have any patient feel they can’t get the best treatment possible.
“You do have the occasional patient fails, but that’s offset by the joys of seeing people live healthier lives.”
He recalls a recent visit by a 74-year-old man whom he performed heart surgery on 20 years ago. The man told him he had a checkup recently and received a clean bill of health.
“‘No stents?’ I asked him,” Peper said. “All this time and he hasn’t needed stents? That’s amazing. I’ve had doctors tell me about patients whose bypass grafts I did years ago were still flowing as well as after I did the surgery. That’s gratifying.”
William A. Peper, M.D.
Vein and Vascular Surgery
1000 W. Highway 6, Suite 420