Baylor's ‘Fab 5' Transplant Surgery Team Blazes a Trail

Baylor Scott & White Health has the largest team of female abdominal transplant surgeons in the country.

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Transplant surgery is a highly specialized field and at Baylor Scott & White Health, the team isn't just specialized, it's unique.

"In comparison to men, there are few women in transplant," Dr. Anji Wall, a transplant surgeon at Baylor Scott & White said. "So to have a single program with five women is pretty unique."

On the Baylor campus, they are called the 'Fab 5.' In addition to Wall they include; Dr. Liza Johannesson, Medical Director of Baylor's Uterus Transplant Team; Dr. Johanna Bayer, Surgical Director of Transplantation at Baylor All Saints; Dr. Hoylan Fernandez, Chief of Hepatobiliary Surgery at Baylor All Saints; and Dr. Suzie Lee, a multi-organ transplant surgeon at Baylor, and the newest member of the team.

"As a surgical trainee, it really inspired me to watch the organs go from cold and gray on ice, then when we plug them in, they fill with blood and it's alive," Lee said. "It's very satisfying to work with so many people who take these very ill patients and get them to a place, they can lead normal lives. It's really amazing!"

The 'Fab 5' are 50% of Baylor Scott & White's abdominal transplant team, a number greater than the average. While more than 50% of medical students are women, fewer than 25% of them are surgeons.

"I think society will recognize this is not an either/or decision," Bayer said. "I think it's you can be a surgeon, you can be a transplant surgeon, AND you can have a family."

With diversity among patients, Fernandez said it's important to have a diverse surgical staff, too.

"Not only females but also minority populations that are greatly underserved," Fernandez said. "It's extremely helpful for all of our transplant patients."

The women all hold leadership roles on their team. They hope to inspire other women and girls to follow in their footsteps.

"I hope they see that they belong here," Johannesson said. "I hope they understand that by us showing what we do every day, they understand they belong in every position, as men do."

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