Donating a Body Lets the Tree of Physicians Thrive–My Donor Memorial Service Speech

As I am sure you know, we take exams. We take patient histories. We may or may not go to class. We study… a lot.

Before all of this, however, we were newly inducted first year medical students, and Dr. Slaby introduced our class to our very first patients. They would become our best study buddies. While he spoke to us and explained how class would work, I thought about their families—you.

Wow, I thought.

How heroic.

How generous during a time of mourning could a family support a donor’s decision to help medical students. I thank our donors, and I thank you. You have helped create the next generation of physicians, us. (more…)

From Bonaventure to GWU–My transition and passion for the schools

My hands shook. My eyes welled. My neurons fired in directions I had never before felt.

My smile consumed my entire face.

I held my acceptance letter to the St. Bonaventure University/ The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences dual-degree, B.S./M.D. program. At the age of 17, I had a conditional seat in the most-applied-to medical school in the country. With my Bonnie pride and medical school excitement, I signed the necessary documents.

The letters M.D. after my name–my dream becoming a reality. (more…)

The ultimate medical school study break–Skydiving

“Did I tell everybody I love them?” Daniel Gaballa worried as he drove over two hours away from his medical school.

He turned into a long driveway leading to a few white buildings. With farmland on both sides of the car, Gaballa and his friends could see until the horizon.

The Mayan predictions did not concern him at the moment. His world—not the whole world—could end today.

Days before, Gaballa’s classmates had given him persuasive speeches to join the adventurous group. If he missed this experience, he would regret it, and he could not act scared in front of girls, he thought.

His 14,000-foot drop made him question whether his last day had arrived.

On November 10, 2012, 16 first year medical students at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences drove to Laurel, Del., to cross an item of their bucket lists.


17 medical students (16 from GWU SMHS) go skydiving in Laurel, Del.



I met, perhaps, the best study buddy.

I have seen dead bodies before. Two of my grandparents had open caskets. I have previously visited two cadaver labs—once during a medical school tour and once visiting a friend at medical school.

Similar to seeing my grandparents, I feel a pull into the lab to see the cadaver I will soon dissect. (more…)

The new chapter of my life arrives.

Buzzz. My cheeks and tongue slightly itch as my toothbrush vibrates mintiness into every crevasse. My time to shut up and check off my mental packing list.

I turn my head and start with the shower. Razor? Check. Soap? Check. Towel? Check–perhaps the hardest thing to forget when my destination has a pool.

I ease my eyes to the counter in front of me, avoiding to bend my head so foamy drool won’t crawl down my shirt. This would not be the first time…

Cotton swabs? Floss? Nail polish–probably wouldn’t be the worst idea. Retainer? All checks galore.

Spit. Rinse. My father awakens from my ringing faucet, a perfectly timed alarm clock.

Who doesn’t forget at least something when traveling? If it were a snake, it would have bitten me. Of course my toothbrush and charger.

Zip. Zip. Lock. Lift. Ugh. Wheel.

These past eight months allowed my bucket list to take charge, and, wow, do I have things to write about. Now, let me find the time…

Meanwhile, time to move. Here I go!

Me at my new school!

A glimpse into the summer sister-bonding trip

On March 25, I received an e-mail from Taglit-Birthright Israel that I anticipated but dreaded.

“Dear Israel Outdoors Applicants –

We have now completed the initial round of trip assignments, and unfortunately we have not been able to place you on a trip yet.

If you can be flexible, we encourage you to stay on the waitlist as spaces do become available…”

Waitlist? Who would give up a free trip to Israel? Taglit-Birthright Israel with the help of generous donors gives selected Jewish young adults an opportunity to visit Israel, educating them on the land of their ancestors.

There goes our plan to start off an adventurous summer… However, this email will not discourage me and Dana, my sister. If Israel won’t take us, maybe another country will. (more…)

He rubbed Q-tips around his mouth and saved a girl.

A drawing Marina sent to us in a letter.

Coming home from my summer job one night in July 2005, I heard an unfamiliar voice linger in the hallway. Walking closer to the origin, I saw my dad in the family room speaking with a dark-haired man I had never seen before.

He introduced himself as Jay Feinberg, the founder of the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation. I still had no idea why he stood in front of me.

My dad said that Feinberg had called him at work the day before because he was a potential stem cell donor for a person with cancer.

Put into a national stem cell donor bank a few years prior, and never really heard from the organization since, my dad completely forgot about his simple cheek swab until this call.

Feinberg told my dad over the phone that he could potentially save the life of an 11-year-old girl with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, cancer of the blood or bone marrow. (more…)

Getting a D isn’t all that bad…

My black patent leather flats click quickly behind the physician, trying to keep up with her pace. Doreen DeGraaff, a


Vitamin D supplements . photo taken by me


doctor of medicine in obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN), glides from one patient room to the next in her office in Livingston, New Jersey.

This particular Monday in August, she endlessly examined more than fifty women, each of which she knew on a personal basis.

After meeting with each patient, she updates each file. Any new medications? How’s your son? Isn’t Argentina beautiful? Have you gone for a colonoscopy yet? Do you take vitamin D tablets?

The last question creates a pause in the conversation. DeGraaff listens for an answer as she does with her patients during every appointment. (more…)

All I want for my birthday is a 10-inch haircut.

MORRISTOWN, N.J.—I stood on the dance floor in front of 120 family and friends on May 5, 2006. Sixteen candles lit and one for good luck to go.

“Yes, everyone, I know I’m only turning sixteen,

Lighting my good-luck candle at my sweet sixteen

And this next candle is number seventeen.

There are two girls I would like to dedicate this candle to.

One is the girl my dad gave stem cells to.

The second girl I have never seen nor heard from,

But, through Locks of Love, my hair will soon be hers, at least some.

As good luck, this candle will be lit.

I will light it myself, so everyone can sit.”

While my auburn hair during my oh-so memorable candle ceremony flowed to midback, a few days later, it barely touched my shoulders. (more…)

A first and last exists for everything, including eating chicken wings

BUFFALO—After a memorable night out in Canada, we packed our bags, checked out of the hotel and drove back to America. We sleepily gazed out the window and waited for our next stop, Anchor Bar.

Anchor Bar . photo taken by me

I had never eaten real chicken wings before and, while I did not really care to try them, I knew that if I did not, my New York friends would never stop making fun of me.

And of all places to have your first real chicken wings, Anchor Bar, that calls itself the “home of the original buffalo chicken wings,” would be the prime choice.

I would definitely agree with that statement. My stomach, ehh, not so much. (more…)

Published in: on March 31, 2010 at 10:24 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , ,