Passion is Life

passion1“Get ready we are going to *Michigan in about an hour for a procurement,” the first year fellow said when I met her on the transplant floor at Columbia hospital.

I was in my second year of residency and an eager future transplant surgeon. Each morning I woke up at 4am to catch the 7 train from Flushing to Time Square and then the 1 train to Columbia campus to be there to pre-round at 6am. I was initially intimidated to be in such a big hospital system, it seemed a bit different from my own 500 bed hospital. After getting lost a few times I was able to find landmarks and find my way around. All I really needed was the transplant fellow lounge where we spent our time if we were not working, the operating room, preop, cafeteria and how to get to the Children’s hospital without going outside the hospital.

Within the hour our team was getting into the SUV that would take us to a small private airport. Our team leader was a charismatic african american gentleman who was a second year fellow and had done his general surgery training at Georgetown. There was a first year fellow, beautiful Chinese woman; one of the girls who is a good friend to this day was a fourth year surgery resident at Stamford and a fourth year medical student on our service.

When we arrived at the airport, we were ushered onto a twin engine cessna. It was interesting, no security check, no ID check, in fact; I had left my wallet at the hospital. Within a few minutes we were airborne. We all took the opportunity to catch up on some much needed sleep and woke up when we are landing. An ambulance was waiting for us at a small private airport just outside of *Detroit. It was exhilarating to be in a speeding ambulance with sirens on. When we arrived at the hospital we were ushered through the Emergency Department entrance and directed to the operating rooms.

Our donor was a *thirty-five year old young man who was brain dead from a motor passion2vehicle accident. We scrubbed and readied for the operation and after a reading by our transplant coordinator and a moment of silence to honor our donor, we proceeded with the surgery. Carefully, we dissected out the liver and kidneys with their blood supplies and then took out the iliac vessels in case we needed to do reconstructions of vessels during the transplant process. In less than three hours we were done. We quickly changed back into our own scrubs and were escorted to a waiting ambulance which whisked us back to the airport. When we got on the plane there was delicious food from The Roast. We ate quickly and again used the time to catch up on sleep.

As I drifted off to sleep, I thought about all that I had seen. It made sense to me that our physical bodies are vessels. With all the organs out, it was just an empty shell. I marveled at how wondrous God is, how He created such a magnificent thing that is the human body. With all its intricacies and all that happens at the cellular and organ level to make it function. And the intelligence he gave us to be able to share organs and use anti-rejection medication to minimize and in other cases prevent rejection. It all amazes me.

That night when we arrived back at our hospital, the recipient surgery was already underway. Unlike in kidney transplant surgery where you leave the native kidneys in place and transplant the donated kidneys into the pelvis, in liver transplantation you have to remove the old liver. It is usually a difficult surgery with a lot of bleeding as the old liver is diseased and cirrhotic. Once the old liver was out, the new liver was sewn in, connecting the main blood vessels and bile ducts. It is such a beautiful thing when blood starts to flow through the new liver and it turns from a dull brown color to a deep red healthy color. It’s something I will never tire of seeing.


If you love what you do, no matter how difficult the days are it will be tolerable. Take time to think about what makes you happy. Your career and passion should align. I love how Amy Rees Anderson, Forbes magazine contributor put it:

What is important is for each of us is to figure out what is the passion inside of you that will drive you to become the very best you can be. What is the passion that makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning ready to take on the world? What is the passion that will help you keep going when everything around you appears to be falling apart? What is the passion that will make you want to give 110 percent of yourself, rather than putting in the minimum requirement to pick up a paycheck?  What is that passion for you? Then, once you identify your passion you can really begin to figure out what roads lie ahead that will allow you to pursue it.

I find it interesting that when interviews have been conducted with some of the most financially successful people of our time they almost always contain a similar thread, which is that the key to their success involved following their passion. Warren Buffett, in giving secrets to success, expressed the importance of finding what brings meaning to your life and making it your focus each day. Steve Jobs of Apple Inc. expressed that people should do what they love doing, sharing that it was his passion for his work and a belief that “people with passion can change the world for the better” that drove him.  Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook states that people should find that thing they are most passionate about and pursue it.  Zuckerberg said, “I think it’s important if you’re going to take on any big challenge, that you just love and really have faith in what you’re doing.

That I think is the most important advice I would say. I do believe that if you are truly passionate about the work you are doing, you will have the greatest chance of achieving financial success. I believe that when we are passionate about something we have more energy, we work much harder, we get more creative, we search more diligently for solutions when difficult problems arise, and we inspire others who work alongside us. Each of those elements helps to increase our chances of success. But above all else, I believe we are the happiest when we are pursuing our passions in life, and that is the very best kind of success. Click here for her full article.

*changed the state/city and age for privacy reasons


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