Dr. Linda Wong
The American Liver Foundation has recognized Dr. Linda Wong for her dedication to her patients. Having performed about 130 transplants, Wong also was instrumental in setting up the Hawaii Chapter of the American Liver Foundation, as well as the creations of the liver buddies and liver education programs.
“She has not only touched the lives of more than 100 liver patients in Hawaii, but she also continues to make a positive impact in the community by helping the American Liver Foundation Hawaii Chapter think of new innovative programs and services ... for liver patients,” says Janice Nillias, executive director for the American Liver Foundation Hawaii Chapter.
Wong practices at Hawaii Medical Center East, formerly Saint Francis, saying her profession in Hawaii has grown significantly. “I think our program has matured a lot,” Wong says. “We’ve done more than a thousand kidney transplants in the last 38 years, and we’ve done more than 130 liver transplants. It’s pretty clear that we know what we’re doing and that we’re a well-run machine.”
Despite the numerous transplants and patients she sees, Wong hasn’t lost her passion for her career. “It can be tiring. Some surgeries take place on the weekend,” she says. “But I think the fact that you can save someone’s life, make them completely turn around and help them get back to life and normal stuff is something that inspires you.”
And since Hawaii is the No. 1 state for liver disease per capita, Wong finds herself with a lot of work. “It’s a large problem,” she says. “We have a lot of Hepatitis B, probably from immigrant populations from Asia.” She also says there is a fair amount of Hepatitis C. Both diseases can seriously damage the liver.
Both of Wong’s parents were doctors. In fact, her father was the first doctor in Hawaii to perform a kidney transplant about 40 years ago, as well as the first bone marrow transplant 30 years ago. Despite her fathers pioneering work, Wong doesn’t feel like she lives in his shadow, or that she does what she does because of her parents’ influence. “Maybe in the back of my mind, the fact that my parents were doctors played some role,” she says. “I hadn’t been home for 14 years, so I didn’t see what my dad did on a day-to-day basis. I think it was the liver transplants I saw in California that inspired me to do what I do.”
For more information on the Liver Foundation Hawaii Chapter, visit www.liverfoundation.org/chapters/hawaii.
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