I was going to write a blog this month about drive and determination. Focus and faith. And how challenge creates change. The subjects are still relevant but have taken a darker turn with the news I received a few days ago. One of my doctors suddenly passed away.
Dani Peress was a resident when I met her. I was a bit out of it recovering from my amniotic fluid embolism. I had open wounds and staples holding my belly together and a couple of residents were tasked with greeting me at 5:30AM EVERY MORNING to clean out my wounds and tell me I was not going home today. Dani was one of them.
Needless to say, I hated both of them. Dr. Hyo Park was the other resident I write about in 37 Seconds. Dani was always with her. And what was striking was, no matter how much sh!t was thrown their way ( found out last night at the memorial- I wasn’t the first patient to be an asshole, there was literal sh!t thrown at them), Hyo was stoic and didn’t show any emotion, but Dani, ALWAYS had a smile.
She was a light coming into my dark room. An angel walking the hallways, eager to learn, work and help anyone in her line of sight. I was lucky enough to briefly meet her. And I ultimately learned to love both of them. They were both healers in every sense of the word.
Dani was diagnosed last year with Stage IV lung cancer. A non-smoker. 33 years old, with a career focused on saving lives. An article she wrote for the New York Times can give you a little insight into her world.
A life full of hope, determination, focus and drive. A life interrupted by challenges and obstacles, yet she continued to work and do research giving 100 percent of what time she had left to others.
She died over Thanksgiving.
Hearing what her colleagues and friends had to say about her and having my encounters with her made us all feel lucky to have been touched by her beautiful soul.
I was left gutted knowing what the world of maternal fetal medicine had lost. And as her patient, I was personally healed by this angel walking through the hospital.
This isn’t the end of her story. In her last few months, she told her friends she wanted her research to continue and set up a fund to help others in the field of MFM. Her memorial fund can be found here.
My hope is her co-workers will feel her angelic spirit permeating through their hands when they practice medicine and those patients will feel this blessed touch beneath their skin, into their souls as she is overseeing this healing from above.
To her family, you brought this light into the world to share with others. Even though her time was brief in the physical world, her impact was far greater than any of us could have possibly foreseen. Thank you for giving us, for giving my family, this beautiful gift of Dani Peress.