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Dr. Brandon Lane Phillips' experience as a patient and a student at Mayo Clinic influences his own practice of medicine today As a pediatric cardiology fellow at Mayo Clinic, Dr. Brandon Lane Phillips cared for a number of children from Mongolia who had congenital heart defects. Before they went into surgery, he would take a photo of their hands next to his on a white piece of paper. He would do the same again after surgery and before they returned home. The difference was striking. "In the pictures before heart surgery, you could clearly see a blue cast to their skin. After surgery, the blue was gone," he says. "That really hit home for me." It made an impact because Dr. Phillips is not only a physician who specializes in pediatric cardiology, he's also been a pediatric cardiology patient. "Many of the kids who came to us from Mongolia had the same heart defect I did: tetralogy of Fallot," he says. "They were often close to their teenage years and had never undergone surgery. These children were usually quite blue. They couldn't walk very far. It was a glimpse of what would have happened to me without the medical attention I received.
Gloria Johnson’s life changed in the blink of an eye. Gloria and her husband, Floyd, were camping in South Dakota in August 2013, when her body’s temperature skyrocketed to 104.6 degrees, and her body went limp. She went from enjoying her time at a campground to being paralyzed from the neck down. She was diagnosed with West Nile virus, which is transmitted by mosquitoes. Most people infected with West Nile virus experience a slight fever or a mild headache. Gloria was in the minority – less than one percent – of people affected neurologically by the virus. She ended up being admitted to an intensive care unit at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus. Because of her paralysis, Gloria needed a ventilator to breathe.
If everyone else can do it, why can’t I? If Ty Wiberg, a 13-year-old from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, has one guiding principle in life, that might be the one. The Chippewa Falls Middle School student has undergone 16 surgeries, walks with braces and uses a wheelchair for distance. Ty was born with spina bifida, a spinal cord malformation. He also suffers from hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid in the brain for which a tube-like shunt drains excess fluid. And he has limited sensation from the knees down, among other issues. Not that any of that is slowing him down. Ty mono-skis, distance races with his wheelchair, scuba dives, plays wheelchair basketball, swims and does karate. This past winter, he spent a week at a downhill ski camp in Colorado for kids with disabilities and injured veterans. This spring, he recently received his black belt in karate.
Courtney Kidd is working hard to raise organ donor awareness after a new approach to double-organ transplant saved her life. Born with five congenital heart defects and suffering through several medical complications, Courtney needed both a new heart and a new liver. Previous surgeries at ages 2, 6, 12 and then again at 22, and numerous blood transfusions over the years, had caused her immune system to develop high levels of antibodies that would attack and reject foreign tissues. She was told that her risk of organ rejection was too high if she received a heart and liver transplant in the usual order. Her Mayo Clinic doctors, however, turned her dire situation into an advantage, and she was one of the first in the world to receive an organ transplant in a way that was likely her only chance to survive.