Behind the Scenes | Thursday, May 19, 2022
SGNA Annual Course Preview: John's Story — A Two-Time Liver Transplant Recipient
SGNA is gearing up for the 49th SGNA Annual Course: Reunite, Recharge, Reflect, taking place in person May 22-24 in Salt Lake City, Utah and virtually June 3 and 4! The Inside Tract is speaking with presenters to get insights on what you can expect from their sessions and why you won’t want to miss this year’s event.
We recently interviewed Annual Course speaker John Hoffman who will be presenting during the virtual conference. He is the author of “LIVEr: My Journey of Transplant Survival,” published in July 2021 and will join attendees in a live-streamed Q&A to discuss his journey being a two-time liver transplant recipient. This session aims to shed light on how nurses and the entire healthcare team can support transplant recipients.
We spoke with John to get a preview of his upcoming session.
Who were some of the GI professionals that made an impact on you and how? Do you stay in touch with them to this day?
Dr. Jeffrey Hyams was my pediatric gastroenterologist from six weeks old until I turned 21. He was always honest with my parents and with me. I credit him with saving my life three times — twice keeping me healthy until I was ready for a transplant and a third time when I was dropping out of college. I went to one of my regular appointments and he noticed that I wasn’t the same kid or teen that I had been. I started seeing a therapist shortly after, and I was diagnosed with depression.
Dr. John Polio was my first adult gastroenterologist. This was a big deal, because Dr. Hyams knew so much about me and we had such a high comfort level with him. Dr. Polio made sure it was the smoothest transition possible and was an incredible physician. Sadly, he passed away due to cancer a few years ago or I would still be seeing him.
Dr. David Hull was not a gastroenterologist but made a profound impact on me. I had a small bowel obstruction and he performed the surgery to clear the blockage. He was very soft spoken but very intelligent and empathetic. A day or two after I came home to recuperate, I had an infection in my surgery site. He came in on a Sunday and cleaned it up. He also passed away not long ago, but I now see his daughter, as she is a physician’s assistant at my current doctor’s office.
I have reached out to Dr. Hyams a few times as we work in the same place. He came to my wedding, which was a big surprise.
What do you want GI and healthcare professionals to know about your story and others who might have similar journeys?
I want to stress that bedside manner is extremely important. You may be the best physician in the world, but if your patients don’t feel they have a rapport, then they are not going to trust what you are saying. I was extremely fortunate to have some of the top physicians in the country taking care of me.
Your story is fascinating for a number of reasons, including the fact that you now work for the same hospital that cared for you during your transplants. What has that experience been like?
This experience has been the most rewarding in my professional life. I was still in the process of writing my book when I started, and coming to work there solidified my resolve to finish the book and share it.
The fact that I am a part of the care of children, being a parent myself, is enough of a reason to come to work every day. The fact that some of the physicians and nurses who took care of me are still there, that is icing on the cake. Any chance I have to give back, I take advantage of.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I am just so honored to be able to speak to a group of people that have had a tremendous impact on my life. I hope that my story is informative and also inspiring.
John Hoffman is a presenter for the virtual component of the SGNA 49th Annual Course. His session takes place on Friday, June 3 at 1:15 p.m. Central Time. Secure your spot for this talk and register online today.