Posts Tagged ‘surgeon’

Photo: Likolani Arthurs Bro.
“Likolani Brown Arthurs [with her father, left] danced with the New York City Ballet for 15 years. Now, she’s moving to a new stage, NYU Langone’s operating theater,” says the New York Post.

Talk about planning ahead! This ballerina knew that dance would be a short career for her and wasn’t inclined to spend the rest of her life teaching ballet or creating choreography. She went to medical school instead.

Hannah Sparks reports at the New York Post, “Likolani Brown Arthurs, 36, spent 15 years dancing with the New York City Ballet. Now, she’s moving to a new stage: NYU Langone’s operating theater, where the retired ballerina will begin her surgical residency.

“With her 6-month-old son, Kaipo, on her hip, in a room full of hospital-bound hopefuls at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, Arthurs opened her Match Day letter during the nationwide annual event, when medical students across the county learn where they will launch their careers as resident doctors.

“ ‘I realized a lot of the things I love about ballet exist here,’ she told the Post of her desire to enter the medical field, spurred by personal tragedy when she lost her father to cancer.

“Arthurs, also mother to 2-year-old Bronson, may have struggled with some imposter syndrome during her uncommon career change. ‘I came in questioning if I would fit in.’ …

“Her transition from the ranks of one of the world’s most storied dance companies to the roster of world-class heath-care providers in NYC was never in step with the Hawaii-born daughter of an activist and a lawyer. ‘Not everyone comes from these “doctor families,” ‘ she said of her entry into medicine. …

“Arthurs set out at 16 to join the ranks of NYC’s prestigious School of American Ballet — just weeks before the attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

She recalled being told that ballet practice would go on as scheduled even after the first tower had been struck. ‘I remember riding the elevators up to change and seeing only one tower still standing. And then when I came down, after changing, both towers were down. That’s when they canceled everything and we took some time off,’ said Arthurs. …

“It was a ‘very special place,’ she said of her experience at SAB, which culminated with her landing a coveted spot — one of 10 placements — with the New York City Ballet. … After a yearlong apprenticeship, she scored a contract with the company’s corps de ballet, making it official.

“ ‘I turned down Harvard,’ the self-described math and science geek told the Post. ‘I knew I could only dance when I was young.’ … Her successful tenure included dancing some of her dream roles, including all three of ballet legend George Balanchine’s ‘Jewels’ … as well as the ‘mysterious’ Arabian dance solo of ‘The Nutcracker.’ …

“ ‘I always thought ballet would be it for me,’ she remembered, but couldn’t shake the feeling she had more to do. … An inclination toward STEM led her to believe she should go pre-med at Columbia University, which she credited with guiding her to the right coursework in her spare time ‘when the theater was dark.’ …

“She could see parallels between medicine and dance during her early days as an emergency room volunteer. ‘I saw a lot of teamwork,’ she said. ‘A lot of creativity and artistry there.’ And the rush she got ‘was similar to what I felt on the stage during a live performance.’

“At NYU, she would eventually land on her calling in general surgery, guided in part by the untimely death of her father due to a slow-growing sarcoma that, at the time it was discovered 18 years prior, required an incredibly invasive open-chest surgery to access. Unfortunately, close monitoring of his disease ‘fell through the cracks.’ By the time he began to show advanced symptoms, his condition was no longer treatable.

“ ‘I just felt that if a surgeon had attended to him earlier in his course, especially with the new advances … things could have been different for him,’ she said.”

More at the New York Post, here. (Lovely ballet photos. No firewall.)

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Image: India Marshall; iStock; Lily illustration
She woke up from a surgery with her hair perfectly braided. Her black male doctor braids his daughters’ hair; the surprise he gave his patient touched her heart.

The Washington Post has a newsletter called the Optimist that I’m really enjoying. This story about a surgeon who understood what a patient’s hair might mean to her is something the newsletter shared recently. Some folks might find the doctor’s act uncomfortably personal, but the point is his patient didn’t.

Soo Youn writes at the Lily, “For the past couple of years, India Marshall has been contemplating getting another surgery to have bone growths in her head removed. She had already undergone one operation when she was about 20 years old.

“Now 29, and working as a manager in a primary care clinic, Marshall was experiencing more growth from her osteomas. While not dangerous, they can be painful. Several had started to grow on her forehead and between her eyes, making it uncomfortable and annoying when she wore her glasses. She met with a few surgeons about getting them removed. …

“Jewel Greywoode, an ear, nose and throat physician who specializes in cosmetic and functional facial plastic surgery [was] the only surgeon who mentioned going though Marshall’s nose so she wouldn’t be left with scars on her face. The other doctors told her she would need an ear-to-ear incision on her head, and hair might not grow back over the scar. Marshall underwent a successful surgery on June 9. …

“For the first couple days after the surgery, she went in and out of consciousness, her head wrapped. But when her mother and husband took off the bandages to clean the incisions, Marshall noticed that she had more braids in her hair. She went in with two loose braids, but woke up with four or five smaller ones.

‘I remember waking up and there were two black nurses helping me get myself together, helping me get my clothes on to go and I just assumed they did it. I was like, “Who else would have known how to braid?” …

” ‘I loved that whoever did it had thought of it because it was very easy to get to the incisions and clean. My hair wasn’t matted or in the way, and it was just easier for the recovery process,’ Marshall said. …

“On Wednesday, she went in for her last post-op appointment. As Greywoode removed her staples, Marshall says he noticed that she had redone her hair with smaller braids and commented, ‘Oh your braids are better than mine. I hope I didn’t do too bad,’ she recounted. …

“Greywoode told her he has two little girls and he braids and twists their hair. That he participates in the maintenance required for his daughters’ natural hair really moved Marshall.

“ ‘Natural hair is a lot of work,’ she said. … ‘To be honest there are not a lot of dads that [can] help with hair. … It was a very nice gesture and it just spoke to my bigger point of having black doctors and them being able to identify with patients.’

“Greywoode also told Marshall that he chose to staple the opening over suturing, because when you remove stitches, you often have to cut the surrounding hair. … ‘That was another part that showed me that he gets it.’ ”

What Marshall wrote on Twitter @IndiaDionna: “thinking about this black man braiding my hair to prepare to cut my head open is hilarious and endearing at the same time. also the fact that he’s that active in helping his wife with their girls, I love it. moral of the story: find black doctors.”

More here.

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Photo: Edwin Ongom, CURE International
Aisha holds her daughter at CURE Children’s Hospital of Uganda. Uganda surgeons are teaching Western doctors a technique to cure hydrocephalus in infants.

Western medical professionals are learning that offering medical insight in the Third World can be a two-way street. In this story, Westerners are benefiting from the teaching of some Ugandan surgeons.

Michaeleen Doucleff writes at National Public Radio, “It’s not every day that surgeons develop a new brain surgery that could save tens of thousands of babies, even a hundred thousand, each year. And it’s definitely not every day that the surgery is developed in one of the world’s poorest countries.

“But that’s exactly what neurosurgeons from Boston and Mbale, Uganda, report [last December] in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“The treatment is for a scary condition in which a baby’s head swells up, almost like balloon. It’s called hydrocephalus, or ‘water on the brain.’ But a more accurate description is ‘spinal fluid inside the brain.’

“Inside our brains, there are four chambers that continually fill up and release spinal fluid. So their volume stays constant.

“In babies with hydrocephalus, the chambers don’t drain properly. They swell up, putting pressure on the brain. If left untreated about half the children will die, and the others will be badly disabled.

“Traditionally doctors treat hydrocelphalus in the U.S. with what’s called a shunt: They place a long tube in the baby’s brain, which allows the liquid to drain into the child’s stomach.

“But a third of the time, these shunts fail within two years, says Dr. Jay Riva-Cambrin, a neurosurgeon at the University of Calgary. …

“For many kids in rural Uganda — and other poor countries — emergency neurosurgery isn’t an option. ‘They’re going to die from a shunt malfunction,’  says [Dr. Benjamin Warf, a neurosurgeon at Harvard Medical School, who led the development of the new method at a clinic in Uganda]. …

“So Warf and his colleagues decided to innovate. … In the new method, doctors basically poke a hole in the brain’s chambers so they can drain. They also prevented the chambers from filling back up by partially damaging the region of the brain that produces spinal fluid. …

“After 15 years of testing and optimizing, he and his team can finally say that their approach — at least in the short term — appears to be just as effective as the procedure commonly used here in the U.S.

“In the study, Warf and his colleagues tested the two methods on about 100 children in Uganda. After 12 months, the doctors couldn’t detect a difference in the children’s brain volume or cognitive skills. …

“The new technique has been so successful in developing countries that American doctors are now traveling to Uganda to learn how to do the technique from Ugandan doctors.

” ‘The doctors at the clinic in Uganda are wizards at the [new] method,’ says Riva-Cambrin. ‘They’re the ones that taught me the procedure.’ ”

More at NPR, here.

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