Sharing Mayo Clinic

Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

Volunteers

January 23rd, 2017

Aboard Floating Hospital, Bringing Medical Help to Poorest Nations

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

As part of the volunteer medical crew on a hospital ship, Mayo Clinic nurse anesthetist Brittany Blake put her expertise to work providing much-needed care to patients in West Africa.
Brittany Blake, a nurse anesthetist at Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus, has participated in many international missions trips over the past five years. But her recent experience as a volunteer with Mercy Ships, an international faith-based organization that sends floating hospitals to some of the poorest nations is the world, was different than any of her other missions. This time, she could put her medical training to work.

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Tags: Brittany Blake, volunteer


January 9th, 2017

Mayo Medical Volunteers Find Perspective by Changing Lives in Ecuador

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

The Ecuadorian people draw one group of Mayo volunteers back again and again.

For years, Kallie Howerton and Kate Hudson had been listening to Kate Welp talk about the mission trips to Ecuador she organizes every year. The nurses work together on the Cardiovascular Surgery Progressive Care unit at Mayo Clinic Hospital — Rochester, Saint Marys Campus.

“My preceptor planted the seed,” says Howerton, who has worked at Mayo Clinic for three years. “She raved about the awesome trip experience she had with Kate [Welp], and, working with Kate, I realized that she’s awesome. I can learn from her.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: volunteer, Giving Back, Medical Missions


January 17th, 2014

Dr. David Fleischer: Treating Esophageal Cancer in Kenya

By SMHNadmin mayoclinic

Dr. Fleischer at Tenwek HospitalEsophageal cancer is a challenging enough condition to treat at the best medical centers in the U.S. When the condition affects scores of people in a developing country in eastern Africa, the challenge is all the more demanding.

David Fleischer, M.D., a gastroenterologist at Mayo Clinic in Arizona, and his colleagues, working in collaboration with Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Tenwek Hospital in Bomet, Kenya, were focused on a noble charge: to work with physicians and staff at Tenwek to intervene early when patients exhibit symptoms that could lead to esophageal cancer.

Dr. Fleischer notes that in many patients with esophageal cancer, the disease is so advanced by the time they present to a physician that only palliative care is possible. In many medical centers such as Tenwek, where several new cases of esophageal cancer are seen each week, the standard of care has been to outfit patients with a tube (stent) in the throat to assist with their swallowing. However, “swallowing a tube is not a cure,” he affirms. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Africa, Arizona, Cancer, David Fleischer, David Fleischer MD, Dr Fleischer, Esophageal cancer, esophagus, Kenya, radio frequency ablation, RFA, Tenwek Hospital


October 21st, 2013

Couple crosses country to help fellow patients

By SMHNadmin mayoclinic

Sunny and Bill Meadows moved from Arkansas to Minnesota to volunteer their time to help other patients. "We hope that by giving back in this way, we can express our appreciation for all Mayo Clinic has done for us," they say. 

 

Sunny and Bill Meadows

 

On the surface, Sunny and Bill Meadows' move from Fayetteville, Ark., to Rochester, Minn., doesn't sound particularly unique. Lots of people go from one part of the country to another. But rather than one of the typical reasons for relocation — such as taking a new job or living closer to family — the couple's decision to make a new home more than 600 miles away was based on deep gratitude and a keen desire to help others. Also, unlike most moves, it involved two kidney transplants.

The Meadows first traveled to Rochester in 2011 for appointments at Mayo Clinic. But their journey started long before then. Sunny was diagnosed with lupus in her early 30s. The disease took a heavy toll on her body over the years, eventually causing her kidneys to fail. Beginning in 2009, she required daily dialysis treatments that significantly restricted what she could do and where she could go.

After two years of dialysis, the couple began to explore the possibility of a kidney transplant for Sunny. Needing a new kidney due to lupus is not a common situation, however. The Meadows wanted to make sure she received care from medical professionals who had expertise working with people in her condition. Her local nephrologist recommended Mayo Clinic.

"From our very first visit, we knew Mayo Clinic was different," says Bill. "Even though we understood it was the place to go for unusual cases, we didn't have any idea that how extremely kind and caring everyone at Mayo would be. The patient-first philosophy was obvious from everyone there."

In June 2011, Sunny was part of a paired kidney donation at Mayo Clinic that involved six donors and six recipients. Sunny's sister gave a kidney to a recipient from New York. Sunny's kidney came from a donor in Arizona. The match was excellent, and her doctors are optimistic that her new kidney will last a long time.

After the transplant, Sunny's quality of life improved dramatically. She became much more active in work and at her church. The couple also began to travel, a hobby that had been out of reach while they were dealing with the effects of Sunny's kidney failure.

But enjoying this newfound freedom didn't seem like quite enough. When Bill and Sunny returned to Rochester for her one-year checkup, they told her medical team that they wanted to do something to help others. Bill volunteered to become a nondirected kidney donor — a donor who gives a kidney to someone he or she does not know.

"After going through years of sometimes agonizing days while Sunny was sick, there was little doubt in my mind that I wanted to at least offer an opportunity for someone else to have a second chance," says Bill.

He was accepted as a donor, and in October 2012, Bill underwent surgery to donate one of his kidneys. Then, after visiting Mayo Clinic for his four-month checkup, the couple began mulling over another idea.

As they were flying home, they both agreed that they felt a special sense of peace when they were in Rochester and at Mayo Clinic. Bill had previously spent dedicated time volunteering, so the two began considering the possibility of moving to Rochester and becoming full-time volunteers.

After that, several things happened that encouraged them to move forward. On a riverboat cruise the Meadows took during a visit to Belgium and The Netherlands, one of the first people they met — and who they got to know over the course of the trip — was a woman who had worked at Mayo Clinic for years. When they told their family about the idea, the couple received support and encouragement. As they explored the financial aspects of the move, they found they would likely be able to manage it. So in June 2013, they put their house in Fayetteville up for sale. It sold in 20 days, sealing their decision to move north.

In September, Sunny began volunteering at the Gift of Life Transplant House, which offers lodging to Mayo Clinic transplant patients and their families. Bill will spend his time volunteering at Charter House, a retirement community owned by Mayo Clinic in downtown Rochester. Their plan is to stay in Rochester for at least two years.

"It is hard for us to express how thankful we are for the care Sunny received. We are indebted to Mayo Clinic for saving her life," says Bill. "We hope that by giving back in this way, we can express our appreciation for all Mayo Clinic has done for us."

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Tags: Charter House, dialysis, kidney, Lupus, transplant, Transplant House, volunteer, organ donation


July 23rd, 2013

A Double Blessing: The Mexican Red Cross Donation

By Susana Shephard susanashephard

Mayo Clinic urologist, Dr. Robert Ferrigni, International Patient Coordinator, Mila Vargas, and Carlos Bloch from the Mexican Red Cross gather at the Los Mochis, Mexico Delegation Office.

As an international patient coordinator at Mayo Clinic in Arizona, I have had many opportunities to work with patients to ensure that they receive the best medical care and attention. Helping patients is our number one priority at the International Patients Center. Last year, we had a unique opportunity to reach beyond our four walls at Mayo Clinic to help make a difference for thousands of patients in Sinaloa, Mexico.

On one of his trips to Sinaloa, Mexico, Robert Ferrigni, M.D., a Mayo Clinic urologist, met Mr. Carlos Bloch, President of the Sinaloa sector of Cruz Roja Mexicana (Mexican Red Cross). Through Carlos, Dr. Ferrigni learned about the vital role the Mexican Red Cross plays including serving as first responders for emergency calls. Impressed with the services Cruz Roja provides with limited resources, Dr. Ferrigni contacted me to see if there was anything Mayo Clinic could do to help. We recognized their urgent need for medical equipment and supplies.

I then presented this idea to Mr. David Reidy, Logistics Manager/Supply Chain Management, and the ball started rolling. Mr. Reidy started the very difficult task of collecting and labeling medical equipment for the purpose of shipping to Cruz Roja Mexicana in Sinaloa, México. With the auspice of Phoenix Mexican General Consulate, Mr. Victor Trevino, the first shipment was delivered March 29th, 2012.

Dr. Ferrigni, David and I had the opportunity to travel to Los Mochis, Sinaloa to be a part of the annual festivities initiating a month long “colecta” (fundraiser) for Cruz Roja Mexicana. This experience was very humbling as the Mexican people of this region showed us their great appreciation for the donated medical equipment that would arrive shortly after our trip.

I’ve been very honored to be a Mayo Clinic employee for the last 17 years and as a Mexican National, I’m extremely proud to be a part of this very important endeavor. I call this a double blessing!

Written by Mila Vargas

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Tags: Arizona, Carlos Bloch, Cruz Roja, David Reidy, Donation, International Patients Center, Los Mochis, Mexican Red Cross, Mexico, Mila Vargas, Robert Ferrigni, Sinaloa, volunteer


July 19th, 2013

Harmonica Helps Pulmonary and Lung-Transplant Patients Breath Easier

By Lauren Venoy LaurenVenoy

Mayo Clinic lung-transplant patient, Larry Rawdon, shares how the harmonica can help other patients breath easier.

After surviving two separate lung transplant procedures in 2005 and 2008, musician Larry Rawdon is sharing new ways of healing through music with other patients at Mayo Clinic in Florida. It was, after all, music that led him to Mayo Clinic and aided in his recovery after he was diagnosed in 2002 with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Prior to coming to Mayo Clinic, Rawdon had little hope of his condition improving. But a chance meeting in 2005 at a music festival with cardiothoracic surgeon Octavio E. Pajaro, M.D., changed his outlook on his condition and created hope for Rawdon and his family.

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Tags: cardiothoracic, cardiovascular, Cesar Keller, Florida, Harmonica, Larry Rawdon, lung transplant, MayoClinicFL, Octavio Pajaro, pulmonary, transplant, transplantation


May 22nd, 2013

Mayo Clinic Young Volunteers – W.E. C.A.R.E.

By Makala Arce MakalaJohnson

Volunteering at Mayo Clinic is an awesome opportunity and our Mayo Clinic Young Volunteers here in Rochester, Minn., are proud to be part of this world-class institution. Team Leaders on our MCYV Council wanted to showcase some of the qualities of our volunteers, and W.E. C.A.R.E. is an acronym that represents these qualities. I completed this video project this spring hoping to demonstrate how volunteers make a difference at Mayo Clinic.

-Rushil Patel, MCYV Team Leader

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Tags: Matthew Clark PhD, MCYV, Rushil Patel, WE CARE, Young Volunteers


December 10th, 2012

Fifty Years of Saving Lives

By Makala Arce MakalaJohnson

David Bakken's AwardDavid Bakken's blood donation "career" had an inconspicuous start. Years ago, his young daughter needed eye surgery, and he donated blood as a way to help pay for the surgery. "At that time, they paid $25 for each donation," Bakken recently told KAAL-TV. But the thing is, Bakken didn't stop. He kept donating. And donating. Now, 50 years later, Bakken has donated his way to becoming Mayo Clinic's top blood donor. He was officially bestowed that honor during the Mayo Clinic Blood Donation Center Blood Donor Appreciation event in Rochester, Minn.

"You are doing this thing for the benefit of others, and I think this is one of the best gifts you can give," Mayo Blood Center Director Manish Gandhi, M.D., told Bakken and others who attended the event. Bakken tells KAAL-TV he understands the impact of his donations. And during the past five decades, he says he's done his best to spread that message to others. "I wear my blood donor shirts and hats, and let people know and encourage them," he says. "I know it makes an impact on people that receive the blood."

For those keeping track at home, here are some of the numbers associated with Bakken's accomplishment: Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Award, blood donor, David Bakken, Donation, Manish Gandhi, Matthew Clark PhD, Sean Hong


October 25th, 2012

What Volunteering at Mayo Clinic Means to Me

By Makala Arce MakalaJohnson

Picture of Volunteer AlisonMany experiences in my life have impacted the way I look at the world and all of the different people around me. I have realized that the world is so much bigger than just me and my family. Working together with each of our strengths and weaknesses can bring about extraordinary hope and progress. A few of my volunteer experiences have especially stood out in this respect.

I first joined Mayo Clinic Young Volunteers near the end of my freshman year of high school. I thought it would be exciting to be involved with the famous, prestigious organization of Mayo Clinic, which gives so much hope and good care to its patients. While it is amazing to be a part of this nonprofit organization, I am also surprised by how Mayo Clinic has become a part of me. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Alison Miller, volunteer


June 13th, 2012

Giving back to Mayo Clinic

By Susana Shephard susanashephard

"When somebody saves your life, that's something that sticks with you for the rest of your life." Powerful words from Sandy Pobanz, a long-time patient and volunteer at Mayo Clinic.

The Pobanz family, from Moline, Ill., began traveling to Mayo Clinic in 1942 when Sandy's father, Wilbur, sought care for a serious heart condition that threatened his life. Mayo physicians diagnosed and successfully treated Wilbur. Since then, the Pobanz family has turned to Mayo countless times. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Caring Canine, Matthew Clark PhD, Medallion Program, Sandy Pobanz


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