Dr. Nancy Ascher is an organ transplant surgeon at UCSF's Connie Frank Transplant Center and Liver Transplant Program. Ascher has devoted her career to organ transplants and transplant research, serving on the Presidential Task Force on Organ Transplantation, the Surgeon General's Task Force on Increasing Donor Organs and the Secretary of Health and Human Services Advisory Committee on Organ Transplantation.
Doctor Q&A: Nancy Ascher
For Ascher, surgery is sometimes a family affair — she removes the donated organ and her husband, transplant surgeon Dr. John Roberts, puts it into the recipient.
What made you decide on transplant surgery as a career? Did you always know you'd be a doctor?
Transplant was an area where we could do interesting surgery and relevant research. I wanted to be a doctor as a child, but was interested in psychiatry.
Why did you choose to come to UCSF?
UCSF is filled with bright, involved, unique people with broad interests. I came to start the liver transplant program at UCSF.
What excites you about the field of organ transplantation now?
The field is still interesting — the surgery is captivating and there are a number of important research questions. The motivation is to improve the care and management of this incredible group of patients.
Describe the culture at UCSF and what makes it a unique place to practice medicine.
Everyone is really smart and everyone has an idea of how to do things. This certainly makes it unique.
You yourself are a donor, having donated a kidney to your sister here at UCSF. Was is strange to switch roles and be the patient, especially in your own department?
I have to admit, it was an awakening to be the patient. It definitely helped me understand what our patients are going through.
In her interview, your patient Sheila FitzPatrick said you met at an event and, as you were chatting about her situation, you told her you'd be honored to do her transplant. What made you volunteer in this particular case?
Sheila Fitzpatrick is bright and an active patient participating in her health care. I love working with patients as active participants.