Dr. John Major continues on family business at WellStar

Published 9:47 am Thursday, February 9, 2023

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From woodworking to masonry to plumbing and everything in between, fathers have passed on their family trade for centuries. For the Major family in LaGrange, the family trade is being a doctor.

Dr. John Major is the newest in the family of doctors, practicing general surgery at WellStar in LaGrange. Major specializes in chest surgeries, including the esophagus, stomach, liver, gallbladder, pancreas and thyroid glands.

The family business began with Dr. Cecil Major, Sr., or “Papa Doc” as John referred to him. Dr. Cecil Major served as a family practitioner in LaGrange for 43 years at Clark-Holder Clinic.

“He did it all as a true general practitioner, delivered babies and some minor operative things. He delivered 8,000 babies in Troup County,” John said.

Dr. Cecil Major had four children, two of whom became surgeons in LaGrange — Dr. Grant Major and Dr. Paul Major.

John’s father, Dr. Grant Major, has been in practice for more than two decades. He began in 1998 and currently practices general surgery at WellStar and Emory in LaGrange.

John’s uncle, Dr. Paul Major, was the former Chief of Surgery at West Georgia Medical Center before passing away in 2017.

“I had them to look up to growing up and saw the impact they made in our community and knew that medicine, specifically surgery, was something that I wanted to do,” John said.

While John is often on call for surgeries — he was on call at the time of this interview and had been called in overnight for emergency surgery — it’s his bariatric practice with WellStar that’s starting to boom.

John’s brother, Dr. Ralston Major, is also a general surgeon that specializes in bariatric surgery.

John completed his residency at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga, where he focused on general surgery and bariatric surgery. He currently performs two types of bariatric surgery, sleeve gastrectomy, where the stomach is made skinny and long, so it restricts what people can eat, and gastric bypass, where they reroute the intestines so that patients don’t absorb the food as well anymore.

John said they have seen some huge success stories when patients come back for their six-month follow-up. They often come back having lost 70, 80 or even 100 pounds in only a few months.

“It’s really rewarding for us. To see patients come back and hear about their joints, and their energy levels and how their clothes fit and the way they feel. That’s why we do it. For these people, it really does change their life,” John said.

According to Dr. Major, the surgeries take about an hour to an hour and a half, depending on which procedure and the patient’s past surgical history. Patients are then kept overnight. About 90 percent go home the next day, he said.

John said his first bariatric surgery was around a year ago on Feb. 28, 2022, noting it was a significant day for him.

“That was also the day that my second son, my third child was born. So, that was a cool day for me,” he said.

Since then they’ve had more than 30 bariatric surgeries since then.

“They’re rolling through, starting to come back at their six-month follow-ups, and that’s when you really see that weight jump, which is pretty cool,” John said.

The surgeries are done using a da Vinci XI surgical robot. John said the robot allows him more articulation and helps keep surgeries minimally invasive. It also gives him a couple of extra hands.

He said most of his surgeries are done using the tool these days, but some surgeries, like the emergency procedure he did overnight, require a surgeon’s hand.

John said that he was never really pressured to follow in his father’s or grandfather’s footsteps.

“Growing up, I knew my dad was a surgeon, but I had no idea what that entailed. He never talked about his work or brought work home with him, so we were a little bit blinded in that regard. But I knew that he enjoyed his work, I knew that he provided for his family and I knew that he was making a big impact on the community, “John said.

“We’d be out eating dinner somewhere and someone might come up and say hi to him and thank him for what he did for them. I always thought that was pretty special. That was definitely one of the things that drew me toward medicine and surgery.”

The Majors will soon be adding yet another doctor to the family. John said his uncle Paul’s son, Lynch, is currently in training for general surgery.