The only tell-tale signs of Katherine Schilling’s dedication to her sibling are three small scars on her back. That’s where doctors extracted bone marrow from her and transplanted it into her little brother who suffered from sickle beta thalassemia, a disease that left him hospitalized with excruciating pain every three to four months since birth.
He underwent an emergency splenectomy, open-heart surgery, seven hip surgeries and a hip replacement, but thanks to the bone marrow transplant, he is completely cured of the disease.
Growing up watching her brother battle this disease and seeing how crucial bone marrow transplants are to patients in need, led Katherine to pursue a career in medicine. When she applied to a general new graduate position at the Cleveland Clinic, she was pleasantly surprised when they offered her a job in the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit. She really connected with the patients and their families because she experienced what they were going through.
After four years in Cleveland, the weather became too much for her and she began searching for a career somewhere warmer. As she searched for jobs online, one of the first positions she saw was for a BMT coordinator at Moffitt Cancer Center. She says accepting the position at Moffitt was one of the best decisions she ever made.
“Being on this side of transplant is completely different. I love being there for the patients as they’re nervous not knowing what to expect preparing for transplant and it’s wonderful to see them months and years out doing so well,” says Katherine.
In recognition of Nurses Week (May 6-12), learn more about the Nursing Program at Moffitt.