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Because Hamiltonians Save Lives & Limbs: Sara Edeiken ’03


Women comprise a little more than 14 percent of vascular surgeons in the U.S., and among that select sisterhood is Dr. Sara M. Edeiken ’03.  She performs a wide variety of vascular surgeries, but has a special interest in limb salvage. One of the things she loves about vascular surgery is that amid its often extreme challenges, she finds so many opportunities to make a difference in someone’s life.

In any given week, Edeiken could cite multiple examples of how she’s done that: one of those times was the subject of a recent story in a local newspaper. Edeiken works at Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital in Baytown, Texas, and The Baytown Sun wrote about a surgery she performed that saved the foot of a 70-year-old man who has diabetes.

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“The procedure called for doing a bypass with his vein, from the groin to the peroneal artery about halfway down the calf,” Edeiken said in the newspaper story. “Essentially, we create a new highway for the blood to travel past blocked arteries.”

Early on in medical school at the University of Maryland, she leaned toward emergency medicine until she realized the appeal surgery held for her.

“My first inkling, I was actually on my OBGyn rotation, which wasn't for me, but we did do two weeks in gynecologic surgery, and I just found that I felt really comfortable in the operating room and enjoyed those cases very much,” she recalled.

Her surgery rotation began with trauma, and the work blew her away, but ultimately she came to realize during her general surgery residency that the cases she liked best were vascular cases.  That led to a formal fellowship in vascular surgery. “It has a real breadth of procedures between big open reconstructions, but also a lot of minimally invasive ways of handling things. And you get to operate all over the body,” she said. Then she continued with her typical, matter-of-fact humor: “I tell everybody that is my patient, ‘I'm really just the plumber of the medical world. My job is to deal with the pipes,’” she said.

Edeiken’s Twitter handle is @bloodyplumber. Twitter is a great forum for senior vascular surgeons to share professional information about difficult problems, she explained. She’s found, too, that Twitter often provides a supportive environment for women and other surgeons and medical students from underrepresented groups who may find it difficult to find a mentor they click with.

Although she was premed at Hamilton, after graduation she worked for three years in biotech, then thought about going to law school, becoming a nurse or a physician’s assistant or maybe pursuing forensics. In the end, she circled back to medical school.

“I give a lot [of credit] to Hamilton — it helped me come into my own and realize what my potential was. I thought, ‘Maybe I'll do premed,’ and did a lot of growing at Hamilton on a personal basis, but really had a lot of great mentors there who helped me realize that it wasn't just a crazy dream, but it was something that was really possible,” she said.

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