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50 Robert WoodJohnson
Elena Frid, MD '06:
Working to Solve the Puzzle That Is Lyme Disease
--Continued from page 43
Charlene Flash, MD '06:
A Goal to Put Herself Out of Work
--Continued from page 45
Society and work with organizations
such as Global Lyme Alliance and
Project Lyme.
She is also committed to educating
physicians and the public about the
dangers of Lyme disease. To help ac-
complish that, she's been featured as an
expert in media outlets, including
Marie Claire, Harper's Bazaar, and
Cosmopolitan magazines, Fox 5, and
the ABC television network, and she has
a far-reaching presence on social media:
Instagram (@drelenafrid), Twitter
(@ElenaFridMD), Facebook (@drele-
nafrid), and her own Youtube channel
(Lyme Talk with Dr. Frid).
Her overarching goal is to make
more people aware of Lyme disease,
including the fact that testing can be
inaccurate. In particular, she wants
people to realize that a negative Lyme
test can create a false sense of security.
If the physician suspects the disease or
has a patient who isn't responding to
mainstream medical treatment, the
patient should be assessed based on
history and retested frequently or re-
ferred to a specialist. "A sudden onset
of symptoms that appear to indicate a
psychiatric disorder or an accumula-
tion of symptoms over a short period
of time are signs," says Dr. Frid.
"Time is of the essence--the longer
you wait, the longer and more com-
plex the treatment becomes."
She's bringing those important de-
tails to Robert Wood Johnson Medical
School--working with medical stu-
dents to make them aware of the
nature of this disease. Dr. Frid also
serves as vice president of the Alumni
Association board.
The real gratification comes when
treatments begin to have an effect.
"When I see patients getting their
lives back, I realize the importance of
the work we're doing," she says.
"That's the benefit and joy that come
from getting it right."
have three children," she says, ex-
plaining the fiction of free time. "A
12-year-old girl, 8-year-old boy, and a
little girl who will be 1."
The high expectations her parents
instilled continue to pay dividends; Dr.
Flash still aims high. She pauses, con-
sidering if she should put her profes-
sional goal out there.
"I feel as though every time I think
of something, God gives it to me," she
says at first.
"I have always said I wanted to be
the surgeon general," Dr. Flash then
confides. "I wanted to develop HIV
treatment programs that are multidis-
ciplinary, that serve families and not
just individuals, and impact communi-
ties. These protective agents are going
to change the face of HIV. Is it crazy to
say I want to end AIDS? It will put me
out of business--but I want there to be
no HIV."
eeks before, while working in
a provisional field hospital in
Haiti, Dr. Desruisseaux had exam-
ined a 15-year-old patient with ex-
treme shortness of breath and a de-
bilitating cough. After taking the girl's
history, she learned that the con-
dition had persisted since the child
was 7 years old. Dr. Desruisseaux
ordered an X-ray, which showed
an enlarged heart and atrial septal
defect--a hole between the upper
chambers of the heart--that required
advanced surgery not available in
Haiti. Without an operation, the girl
would live only a few more years.
B e f o r e l e a v i n g H a i t i , D r.
Desruisseaux wrote to two physi-
cians at Montefiore: Daphne T. Hsu,
MD, professor of pediatrics and
chief, division of pediatric cardiolo-
gy, and Samuel Weinstein, MD, who
was then director of pediatric car-
diothoracic surgery. "Desperate to
help her," she described the girl and
her condition. Upon her return, she
continued to build the case for sur-
gery and, through the Gift of Life
Foundation, raised funds for the
child's journey to New York.
On the first anniversary of the
earthquake, surgeons at Montefiore
performed a three-hour, open-heart
procedure, which successfully re-
paired the defect. A day later, their
young patient was released and was
soon on her way home, after an-
nouncing her new dream: to become
a doctor.
"Why do you want to be a doctor?"
asked Dr. Desruisseaux.
"Because of you," the girl replied
shyly."Because you encourage me."
Mahalia Desruisseaux, MD '00:
"A Rare Combination"
--Continued from page 49