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Stories Of Healing – Dr. Ryan Fitzgerald

For Dr. Ryan Fitzgerald, Baptist Health is more than a workplace. It is a part of his story. 

Ryan grew up like most kids, playing sports and living life to the fullest. From the Tennis Court to the Baseball Diamond, Ryan loved to be outside in any way that he could. Around ten years old, Ryan was diagnosed with a Coarctation of the Aorta, meaning a portion of his aorta was narrower and restricting blood flow to the rest of his body. After a corrective surgery at age 11, Ryan continued living without any limitations to his lifestyle.

Years later, while in medical school, a blood pressure increase indicated a recurrence of the coarctation and doctors again decided that he would need to undergo a repeat corrective surgery.  Due to a surgical complication, Ryan’s condition worsened to the point that he would need a heart transplant.  Ryan was at Arkansas Children’s, which did not have a suitable device to fit his body at his age, so he was transferred by ambulance to Baptist Health.

A month after the initial surgery, Ryan woke up and was told that he would need a complete heart transplant. Performing the surgery would be Dr. Ransom, a Cardiovascular Surgeon at Baptist Health. Following the surgery, Ryan would be supervised daily by Dr. Hutchins, a Transplant Cardiologist at Baptist Health. While at the hospital, Ryan spent the most time interacting with these two medical specialists. Ryan eventually recovered from the transplant and continued on in his medical studies, inspired by the doctors and medical professionals that had helped him throughout his life.

After Medical School, Dr. Fitzgerald and his wife had triplets, leaving Fitzgerald with a desire for more time at home with his family. In 2017, he began working with Radiology Consultants at Baptist Health and found it a wonderful and rewarding change. He was able to spend more time with his family while doing meaningful and life-changing work each day.

About a month into his new position, Dr. Fitzgerald was reading scans when his former caregivers and friends, Dr. Hutchins and Dr. Ransom, walked through the door. Together, the three were able to help a critical patient across the hall in the CT Scanner and find answers in the scans that Dr. Fitzgerald happened to be in the room to read. From the beginning, Ryan found inspiration in the doctors around him to pursue a medical career and help others because of the care he was given. Now, his daily work serves as a reminder of the care he was given and continually encourages him to pass it forward.

Dr. Fitzgerald serves on the Baptist Health Foundation Board and the Arora Board, the organization that found the heart donor for his surgery earlier in life. Because of his experiences, he continues striving for solutions and treatment with the rest of the doctors and healthcare providers. Ryan’s story is a full-circle story of healing and care and continues to live on through his work at Baptist Health.

Help others, like Dr. Fitzgerald, heal by giving to the ‘Heart of Faith Fund’. Click below to donate!