UK transplant specialist Dr. Alla Grigorian talks about why she loves what she does
March 12, 2018 / in Our people, Digestive health, Transplant / by UK HealthCare
For our latest Making the Rounds interview, we caught up with Dr. Alla Grigorian, a gastroenterologist and liver transplant specialist at UK HealthCare. Dr. Grigorian is the director of the Liver Transplant Program at the UK Transplant Center and has worked at UK since 2003.
What types of patients do you treat?
I see a lot of patients with end-stage liver disease. These are patients who have advanced cirrhosis and who deal with a myriad of medical problems because of how advanced their disease has become. We see patients with ascites, encephalopathy and gastrointestinal bleeding, and we see patients with liver cancer.
When I see patients in my hepatology clinic, these are patients with more stable liver disease. I actually specialize in treating patients with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH.
Why are you passionate about treating liver disease?
I am a gastroenterologist by training. I still continue practicing gastroenterology, but liver disease has been very fascinating and very personal for me. It was personal because it affected several of my family members in several generations.
But also it sits on the intersection of medicine and surgery, and the transplant side of it is where you really have the ability to save patients on the brink of death. There is no other place in the field of gastroenterology where you are so involved in saving patients’ lives.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
You won’t believe how much energy we get when we see patients go from being extremely sick one day and thinking, “Well, if this transplant doesn’t come within the next few days, we don’t have much more time,” to seeing these same patients sitting in their beds eating breakfast food just a few days later.
They get a liver transplant, they’re looking great and their jaundice is gone. A new life is open in front of them. It’s like a second birth of a person. You know how exciting it is to see a newborn child and think, “What a gift of life that was given?” Well, a liver transplant is a gift of life given for a second time. It’s an amazing feeling.
How did you end up in Lexington?
I came here to train in internal medicine in 2003 and I’ve been here ever since. You know how sometimes you come to a place and you just feel like it’s your new home? I think that’s what happened to me when I came here.
Watch our video interview with Dr. Grigorian to learn more about how she helps patients with liver disease feel better: