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Hispanic Heritage Month: Hear from Juan Caicedo, MD

Sep 20, 2023, 18:27 PM by Anna Shults

September is Hispanic Heritage Month! We're taking this opportunity to lift up the voices of our members and highlight their contributions to the field. 

Juan Caicedo, MD
Northwestern University

Why did you choose to pursue a career in transplant surgery?
A profound passion for liver, kidney, and pancreatic surgery drove my decision to pursue a career in transplant surgery. In my home country of Colombia, I witnessed the unfortunate demise of numerous patients needing organ transplants due to a scarcity of abdominal transplant surgeons. The motivation behind my choice stemmed from recognizing the remarkable impact that organ transplantation has on the lives of individuals. For those facing organ failure, transplantation offers a lifeline and the promise of an improved quality of life. The transformative effect of transplant surgery extends beyond the individual patient to their families. Observing critically ill and often despairing patients regain hope and a second chance at life is an immensely humbling and rewarding experience. I aspire to contribute to affording Hispanics and all patients the opportunity for a renewed lease on life through abdominal organ transplantation.

Who has been the most influential in your career?
My journey has been significantly shaped by many individuals to whom I am deeply grateful. Foremost among them is my mother, whose unwavering support and encouragement have been a constant source of inspiration, propelling me to pursue my dreams and seize opportunities. Additionally, I am immensely fortunate to have been guided by two eminent transplant surgeons, Dr. Frank Stuart and Michael Abecassis. They provided me with invaluable mentorship and facilitated my entry into the field. Moreover, I have had the privilege of working with exceptionally talented and dedicated transplant colleagues who have continually inspired me. Nevertheless, the resilience, strength, and unyielding hope displayed by my patients in the face of adversity have had the most profound influence on my quest for excellence in my chosen field.

What significance does being a transplant surgeon hold for you?
Being a transplant surgeon signifies membership in an exceptional team granted the privilege of reinstating health and hope to patients in dire need. It involves making a profound impact on the lives of individuals and their families by bestowing upon them the gift of life through the selfless act of organ donation and the expertise of our medical team. 

What key message would you like to emphasize during Hispanic Heritage Month?
Hispanic Heritage Month provides a unique opportunity to celebrate the rich cultural diversity that enriches our society. It is crucial to acknowledge the significance of the Hispanic community, the fastest-growing minority in the United States, which is on track to becoming the majority. This recognition extends beyond medicine, encompassing all facets of life. I fervently hope that my journey as a Hispanic transplant surgeon can inspire transcending backgrounds and motivate individuals to pursue their passions to make a positive and enduring impact on our world.