Hockey & Heels
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She is a runner, a dog lover, and a list maker. For Dr. Kelly Birdwell, her 5 a.m. runs with a group of fellow physicians, her three little dogs, and her hyper-organization help keep her stress in check.
Why the stress? Not only is she a mother of three, but also her specialization in kidney transplant carries a significant emotional investment.
“I treat patients who are very sick,” Birdwell says. “The opportunity to give someone a transplant is very affirming. Transplants turn things around for these patients. They go from being tied down to dialysis to being able to travel and play with their kids.”
According to Birdwell, she chose nephrology late. It was actually the worsening of her father-in-law’s kidney disease that inspired her to go
into nephrology. “He was a physician and still tried to work full-time, even on dialysis,” Birdwell says. “Although he passed away before he could get a transplant, he inspired me to want to treat patients with renal disease.”
Married to a pediatric pulmonologist, Birdwell says that flexibility—and family dinners—are the key ingredients to both their marriage and their parenting. “Family dinner is a priority,” she says.
And, unlike most people who would hate to be awakened in the middle of the night, it’s often good news for Birdwell.
“The greatest thing is to call a patient at 2 a.m. and tell them their transplant is here. You know you’re changing their life.”