My Superheroes: The Doctors Behind the Masks

My Superheroes: The Doctors Behind the Masks
Last week, the health community celebrated National Doctors' Day and the beginning of National Donate Life Month. In celebration, I am spotlighting the two doctors who have helped me the most along my health journey. In a previous column, I wrote about the team of doctors that manages my two autoimmune diseases, primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) and Crohn’s disease. My gastroenterologist, Dr. William Stassen, and transplant hepatologist, Dr. Madhavi Rudraraju (also known as Dr. Raju), played important roles in the liver transplant that gave me a second chance at life. I first met Stassen in 2006 when I was hospitalized with sepsis. He was the gastroenterologist on call and was the only doctor to suspect I had an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). After performing my first colonoscopy, Stassen confirmed I had Crohn’s. I hadn’t planned to switch gastroenterologists after I was discharged from the hospital, but several factors played into my decision. At the time, I had been with the gastroenterologist who had diagnosed my PSC almost a decade earlier. I was disappointed that despite regular visits and ongoing health issues, my doctor never discussed my increased probability of having IBD. Also, on one of the few days that Stassen wasn’t on call at the hospital, the doctor making rounds recommended that I be placed on the national transplant list immediately with no explanation why. When I asked Stassen about it a day or two later, he guffawed at the idea. He reassured me that I was nowhere close to liver failure and couldn’t get on the list even if I wanted to. I felt I received better care under Stassen because of his bedside manner, his expertise, and the way he weighed all options before making a decision. The fact that his office was a five-m
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