All was quiet inside a waiting area at Cleveland Clinic in Weston except for the soft, measured voice of Barbara Miller. The Cincinnati native was sharing stories about a vocation she never intended to pursue—and for good reason since the specialty wasn’t taught in nursing school.
But after accepting a position at Jackson Memorial in Miami as a nurse in the first pediatric multivisceral transplant unit nearly three decades ago, Miller realized that she’d found her calling. Since then, she’s served as a patient liaison—and much more—for organ transplant candidates and recipients.
Her role as manager of the abdominal transplant program (kidneys and liver) at Cleveland Clinic, where she’s been since 2015, seamlessly integrates with her faith, her sense of responsibility and her gentle Midwest spirit. In many ways, it makes her the perfect person to accompany transplant candidates on an emotional journey that, by its nature, traverses peaks and valleys.
Inside the waiting area, Miller is lending detail to her day-to-day duties, including her responsibilities when it comes to candidate evaluation. She then opens up about a personal connection that has sealed the bond she feels with transplant patients and their families.
As she pauses, another Cleveland Clinic employee rises from a nearby chair and walks toward where Miller is sitting. He’s overheard much of our conversation.
“I don’t mean to interrupt,” he says, “but I’m a double transplant recipient. Thank you for your work. Honestly, I wouldn’t be here today without [his transplant surgery]. God bless you.”
Miller nods at the young man and sits in silence with his words for a few seconds. She’s clearly touched by the moment.
The health professionals we meet along the healing road don’t all wield scalpels. But that doesn’t lessen their impact when it comes to everything from making informed choices to coordinating our care to dealing with insurance to simply providing a shoulder. Barbara Miller is one of several dedicated health-care heroes you’ll meet in the July issue of Lifestyle. We’ll also introduce you to a physician who’s working to keep children out of the hospital by addressing food insecurity. Of course, some health heroes do wield scalpels—and you’ll meet a few of them as well, including an oral and maxillofacial surgeon who brings life-altering meaning to the term saving face.
The magazine looks forward to honoring Heroes in Health Care throughout South Florida at a special event on July 26 at AC Hotel Fort Lauderdale Beach.
In the meantime, enjoy the issue.