Medical All-Stars, Part 4

Zakiyah Kadry, MD, FACS, 
Professor of Surgery, Chief, Division of Transplantation, Penn State Health, Milton S. Hershey Medical Center

To Dr. Zakiyah Kadry, the human body is “an amazing, amazing thing.”

Some liver transplant patients are walking within a week. Others must bring their bodies back from the ravages of end-stage disease. One patient in Switzerland, slow to respond in recuperation, had a belly so bloated with excess fluid that “he literally looked pregnant.” Within a year, he was an athletic golfer and CEO of his company.

“I always tell patients, ‘Don’t be disheartened,’” Kadry says.

Kadry was born in New York, the daughter of an international civil servant at the United Nations. She was determined on a career in medicine while in high school because “there are no boundaries in disease. I could practice anywhere in the world.”

She has studied and practiced in Switzerland, Japan, Ireland and Italy, and interacted with colleagues at international conferences. Exposure to medications and techniques worldwide has taught her to approach problems with a fresh outlook, “so you come out with the best possible outcome for the patient,” she says. After all, “although techniques are standardized, patients are not standardized.”

Kadry studied and taught transplantation at the University of Pittsburgh, under transplant pioneer Dr. Thomas Starzl. Since joining Hershey Medical Center and its new liver-transplant program in 2005, she and two other transplant surgeons have built a multidisciplinary team performing liver, pancreas and kidney transplants.

“We get involved in practically every aspect of our patients’ lives,” she says. “It gets to the point where the patient views our transplant division as their support structure and their guidance. We are one big family.”

It’s difficult to schedule activities outside the hospital, since the call for a transplant can come at any hour. In her downtime, she recharges by reading, walking her beautiful Hershey neighborhood or visiting such horticultural wonders as Longwood Gardens and Chanticleer Garden.

Kadry has lost count of her hundreds of transplants, including transplants from living donors. One patient married her fiancé 10 minutes before surgery. Another, very ill from a genetic liver condition, invited Kadry to her wedding months after the transplant. Kadry and her team stay focused by concentrating on achieving “a good outcome with our patients.”

“We’re in the business of second chances,” she says. “We want people to have a second chance at life, and nothing gives us more pleasure than to see a patient doing well. I can’t think of a more satisfying job than this.”