Penn Medicine News Blog Archive: Patient Stories

The Family and Lab Behind a ‘Precious’ Donation to Basic Research

By Karen Kreeger | November 20, 2015 | Comments image from

In 2009, Sarah Gray found out during a routine ultrasound that one of the twins she was carrying had anencephaly, a fatal genetic condition where the brain and skull don't fully develop. After his death, she and her husband donated Thomas’s organs and tissues and since then, have been tracking how they've been used. Read more

Penn’s Tiniest Patients Celebrate Halloween in the Intensive Care Nursery (photos)

By Greg Richter | November 2, 2015 | Comments

On Friday, nurses, family, and friends celebrated Halloween a day early in the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania’s Intensive Care Nursery (ICN). Although many of these babies were born with very low birth weight or health problems and need special attention before they can go home, their parents and... Read more

Abramson Cancer Center Raises $3.5 Million – and Takes a Selfie (Photos)

By Steve Graff | October 15, 2015 | Comments Selfie

We put together a slideshow of photographs to give a glimpse inside the Abramson Cancer Center’s (ACC) first “Philly Fights Cancer” fundraiser, but perhaps the best picture of the night was snapped Ellen-Degeneres-at-the-Oscars-style on an iPhone during the program. “Everyone get ready," said Tracy Davidson, NBC10 anchor and emcee for... Read more

Music to Patients’ Ears

By Greg Richter | September 18, 2015 | Comments Threshold choir- Doris and Lana

As I get out of the elevator on a Friday morning at Penn Hospice at Rittenhouse, I follow angelic voices to the unit’s volunteer Threshold Singers practicing for a day of spreading comfort to patients. Since 2012, when co-director Doris Mogen began the all-volunteer, 15-member chapter, she and other members... Read more

Trigeminal Neuralgia: A Patient’s Story

By Lee-Ann Donegan | July 31, 2015 | Comments image from

Visual distribution of the trigeminal nerve, the major nerve that transmits sensation from the face to the brain. When pressure is placed on the nerve, most often from a blood vessel, trigeminal neuralgia can result. Trigeminal neuralgia (TN), also called tic douloureux, is a facial pain disorder that affects over... Read more

A Mutation, a New Drug, and a New Life

By Steve Graff | July 10, 2015 | Comments IMG_2462_large

Lois Hahn couldn’t have been happier on Tuesday. The 71-year-old wife and grandmother was back at Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center, with her son and husband by her side, for a follow-up visit with her medical oncologist, Alexander Perl, MD, an assistant professor of Hematology/Oncology in the ACC. She’s feeling and... Read more

When It’s More Than Just Routine Fatigue

By Anna Duerr | June 3, 2015 | Comments image from

Sites on vacation in Miami, enjoying a return to traveling following treatment for PH So many of us have been there: working long hours and feeling exhausted! But how do you know if it's just the body’s normal reaction to being overworked or something more serious? For Tiffany Sites of... Read more

A Very Special Tea for Two

By Olivia Fermano | May 27, 2015 | Comments 5 Preston Tea_1

You can change someone’s world with one simple act of kindness. Earlier this month Pennsylvania Hospital (PAH) maternity nurse, Lynne Dever, RNC, was going about her work day when she noticed her patient – Alison Paymer of Philadelphia – was in great distress. Other than being pregnant with twins, Paymer’s... Read more

What We've Been Up To: January and February, in Pictures

By Robert Press | February 21, 2015 | Comments

If you feel like you've seen an awful lot of "Hey, check out some shots from the grand opening of [insert massive medical facility here]!" lately, that's because, well ... yeah, we've been opening a whole bunch of new space. In just the past few months we've celebrated the opening... Read more

Focus on Rare Diseases is Common at Penn Medicine

By Karen Kreeger | February 6, 2015 | Comments Rare Disease Day Logo 2015

Penn Medicine has been at the forefront of rare disease research for decades, and these efforts – as well as many of its other research and clinical milestones -- are being honored this year as part of the Perelman School of Medicine’s 250th anniversary celebration. Read more

Beyond Cancer: When Both Parents Hold BRCA, a New Risk Can Emerge

By Karen Kreeger | January 14, 2015 | Comments Greenberg Cancer Discovery blog post image

Greenberg Cancer Discovery blog post imageMany families are acutely aware that BRCA1 and BRCA2 are the most important breast and ovarian cancer susceptibility genes. But recently a team including researchers at Penn Medicine discovered another risk it can pose in cancer patients when both parents carry the mutation. Read more

Year in Review: A Look Back at 2014!

By Steve Graff | December 31, 2014 | Comments

Before we ring in the New Year, the Penn Medicine department of Communications is taking a look back at 2014, a year filled with more breakthroughs in medical research, growth at the Penn Medicine campus, and philanthropic support. This year, we took a different approach and put together a year...

A Great Save

By Sally Sapega | September 17, 2014 | Comments Lucky save 002

Running along the Schulykill River Trail was a frequent outing for Todd Tewksbury, a 27-year-old mechanical engineer. So when he started his run one evening last month, the last place he expected to end up was in the emergency room of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. “I remembered...

Two Diseases Can’t Keep ACC Patient off His Bike

By Steve Graff | September 8, 2014 | Comments Photo (2)

Abramson Cancer Center patient Marc Barag started training for the Ride to Conquer Cancer about two years ago—he just didn’t know it. Diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and enduring 96-hour sessions of chemotherapy, Barag decided to jump on an exercise bike he spotted on the infusion center floor one day to... Read more

Cancer Patient Shows Us Radiation Therapy through a Different Lens

By Steve Graff | August 28, 2014 | Comments

Thomas Ashley, a seasoned Philadelphia filmmaker, has a message for anyone dealing with a cancer diagnosis and the prospect of undergoing radiation therapy: It's not as scary as it seems. He's telling his story in the form of a new video he produced that documents his own experience as a... Read more

The Role of Culture in Health

By Sally Sapega | August 28, 2014 | Comments Spirit_catches_you2

Each year, the University of Pennsylvania sponsors a series of events throughout its campus focusing on a central theme chosen by faculty, staff and students. The focal point of the 2014-2015 academic year is Health. The Year of Health was chosen, in part, because of the national focus on health-care... Read more

Hope Rings Eternal for Patients at the Abramson Cancer Center Pennsylvania Hospital

By Olivia Fermano | June 26, 2014 | Comments 6 Schieft Hope Bell-pt

In 1733, the English poet Alexander Pope penned the famous line, “Hope springs eternal in the human breast,” in "An Essay on Man, Epistle I." Over three and a half centuries later, Pope’s words still resonate with profound meaning. No matter the circumstances, humankind continues to have the capacity to... Read more

An Anniversary to Remember

By Greg Richter | May 12, 2014 | Comments Photo

Debbie and Jack McColgan’s love for one another was evident to many at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) well before the couple’s 38th wedding anniversary last month. At HUP for more than 100 days, Jack battles large B cell non Hodgkin’s lymphoma, with radiation, chemotherapy, and other... Read more

Cycling for Rare Diseases

By Karen Kreeger | May 1, 2014 | Comments image from

The first annual Million Dollar Bike Ride is finally here. On Saturday, May 3, 2014, close to 500 riders and many other volunteers and family members will gather at Highline Park on Penn’s campus to raise funds for and awareness about rare diseases. Read more

Leape's Conclusion: Health Care's "Culture of Disrespect"

By John Shea | April 18, 2014 | Comments image from

Lucian Leape, MD There are not many people who could address a gathering of medical professionals associated with one of the most highly regarded academic health systems in the country and talk to them about their part in a pervasive “culture of disrespect.” Talk to them, that is, and not... Read more

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