Jolt ends surgeon’s career, jump starts new outlook on life

By Nicole Brochu, Staff writer

6:33 AM EST, February 22, 2013

Just seven years into a promising urology practice, Dr. Emile Allen was operating on a cancer patient when a jolt of electricity threw him off his feet — and out of the practice of medicine forever.

His 10-year odyssey to self-discovery and healing taught him that when you think your life is over, it’s time to come up with a new definition of life.

Allen is no longer a practicing surgeon, but he has dedicated himself to healing people in new ways. At the end of the month, the Boca Raton man, today an author, medical consultant and inspirational speaker, will release a new book he hopes will motivate the many people struggling like he was to make sense of tragedy.

“When I had my near-death experience, I realized that in life, everything is on lease. Anything can be taken away from you in a heartbeat,” said Allen, 53. “You have to learn to let go of the physical and emotional attachments and start to be thankful for your struggles, because they help give you character.”

In “Eaten by the Tiger: Surrendering to an Empowered Life,” Allen uses personal anecdotes from his time as a physician, patient and son of a cancer-stricken father to sketch out a path to healing that starts with eight steps: awareness, acceptance, letting go, faith, lack of judgment, gratitude, fighting fight-or-freeze reflexes, and reflection.

The biggest lesson he hopes to impart: Tragedy doesn’t have to be the end of the road, just the beginning of another.

“My accident was actually the best thing that ever happened to me,” Allen said. “I believe my life was saved that day so I could help the millions of people in the world who are struggling.”

Of course, it took him years to come to that conclusion. On the day of his accident, in 1998, Allen was 38 and at what he considered “the height” of a career he had spent a lifetime building. A urologist who specialized in diseases of the urinary tract, he was using an electric scalpel to remove a patient’s cancerous kidney when the tool, which wasn’t grounded properly, sent an electric jolt through the patient’s bowel, into Allen’s left hand, up his arm, through his heart and brain and out his right ankle.

Allen said he briefly passed out, then heard a voice say, twice, “I’m not ready for you yet.”

The patient was fine, but Allen suffered life-altering side effects — seizures, nerve damage in his hand, depression, memory loss. Unable to drive, read or even count change at the grocery store, he closed his Pennsylvania urology practice and moved in with his parents in southern California. Under a doctor’s care, he was eventually put on nine different medications, taking a total of 36 pills a day.

“It was really tough,” said Allen, who moved to Boca Raton three years ago. “The physical damage heals. We know that as surgeons. But it’s the emotional trauma that is far, far greater for people to deal with.”

“Eaten by the Tiger,” from the “self-publishing alternative” company, Inspire On Purpose, is available now in e-book form ($9.99) on, and other major bookstore websites. The hard back version ($21.99) will go on sale March 8. Go to for more information.,0,861265.story


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