Doctor is now the patient, and blogs her transplant experience

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Saturday, April 27, 2019
Doctor is now the patient, and blogs her transplant experience
Doctor is now the patient, and blogs her transplant experience - Ali Gorman reports during Action News at 5pm on April 26, 2019.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The tables are turned for a young doctor doing training in Philadelphia. She's now the patient, recovering from a heart transplant and it's giving her a whole new perspective.

Alin Gragossian, 31, is a third-year resident in the emergency room and plans to do her fellowship in intensive care.

So the patient she became - struggling to stay alive - is the exact type of patient she wants to care for in the hospital herself.

Alin tells Action News she still can't believe that just 3 months ago she was a patient in the Intensive care unit.

Problems started while she was working as a resident at another local emergency room. First she had a cough, then fatigue and then shortness of breath.

"And that's what scared me the most, shortness of breath. I felt like I had to stop in between when I was saying sentences to my attending (physician)," recalls Alin.

"Of course, doctors are the worst patients so of course I was - 'I don't want to be admitted, don't get the labs, don't do this, don't check my heart, it's fine,' " she says with a wry smile.

Fortunately, her colleagues didn't listen.

Tests revealed she was in severe heart failure. But still with her characteristic smile, she was transferred to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, and put on the list for a heart transplant.

"I know the importance of organ donation but being on the other side really gives you a different perspective," she says.

Alin started journaling throughout that experience.

After successful heart transplant surgery, she turned it into a blog called A Change of Heart.

"And here is where I will say it, it was an honor to be in my patient's shoes," Alin says.

The blog is a way to thank her donor and encourage others to become organ donors.

As for the scar on her chest -

"I think it's beautiful, I think it shows what I went through," she says.

And it's a reminder of the gift she's been given: more time with family and friends, and to treat patients going through similar battles.

"I have always wanted to go into critical care to take care of the sickest patients to make sure they have a good quality of life after," she notes, adding, "You can almost die and come back and be yourself again, and that's kind of what happened to me."

Alin later found out she has dilated cardiomyopathy, a hereditary heart problem her family didn't realize was there.

She is still on a lot of medications and her immunity is low so she can't go back to seeing patients yet.

But she hopes to return in the next few months.

To follow Alin's blog, CLICK HERE.