PHOENIX - More than three decades of medical practice were nearly cut short after Dr. Anthony Hedley learned the devastating news that he had been diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis in 2013.

The tissue in his lungs had thickened and stiffened, making it difficult for his body to circulate oxygen. His health took a rapid dive and soon he wound up using an oxygen tank.

Dr. Hedley, who is a non-smoker, received a lifesaving lung transplant and has since recovered, but the question of what caused his nearly-deadly diagnosis still eluded him.

Surgical smoke, also known as Bovie smoke, is a common occurrence in operating rooms across the country. When a high-heat electrical tool is used to cauterize skin, muscle or bone during a surgery, some smoking may occur.

But how dangerous is this smoke when inhaled?

Dr. Hedley believes his lungs were tainted by breathing in the smoke after performing more than 11,000 surgeries and is warning other medical professionals to take precautions to ensure their own health when helping others.