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Former Cincinnati Children's Hospital patient returns as doctor

At 12 years old, after a few weeks of being sick, Julie learned she had liver failure and seven days to live. She underwent a liver transplant, two angioplasties, and four organ rejections at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center on her journey to a full recovery. Fortunately, Julie now has a new relationship with Cincinnati Children’s—as an employee.

Since my liver transplant, I was inspired by the amazing medical staff at Cincinnati Children’s and wanted to become a pediatric gastroenterologist.

Today, I’m a clinical fellow in the gastroenterology division at Cincinnati Children’s. I was given the opportunity to train with a team of excellent physicians with a broad range of knowledge and experience, and a limitless compassion for kids. I’m working alongside my former hepatologist, Dr. William Balistreri—one of many who saved my life many years ago. He has been an amazing role model and inspiration for me.

My dream is coming true—thanks in part to the Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education (CHGME) program. CHGME provides federal funds to children’s hospitals to help train pediatric residents and fellows. This program has helped me and others like me follow our dreams to care for kids. I believe it is critical to train the next generation of physicians who can properly care for children and give them the opportunity to live their lives to the fullest.

My experience as a former child patient constantly affects how I care for my patients. I work closely with many children that need or have had a liver transplant. I share my medical journey with patients to make sure they know that a liver transplant should not stop them from following their dreams.

I often think of the patient perspective on how a diagnosis or medication regimen is going to affect their life. I always remind myself that even the most routine tasks for us doctors are often a life changing conversation for patients and families. Taking extra time to connect with and explain to families can profoundly impact their understanding and health outcomes.

I always allow families to lead the conversation and ask any questions they may have. I’ve found there are a wide variety of reactions or interest levels—sometimes leading to over an hour-long conversation with hugs. I am a huge proponent of the mentality that we should all be thankful for our gift of life and live it to the fullest. I’m grateful to have been able to pass on this inspiration—I have had multiple teens tell me that after meeting me they do not question if they can or should pursue their dreams and career aspirations!


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