system, particularly the anti-rejection drug cyclospo-rin, as well as antibiotics and sophisticated diagnostic
equipment such as computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging.
In addition to immunosuppressants and advances
in diagnostic technology, requirements mandating
hospital affiliation with organ recovery programs
have boosted the transplantation success rate. “Saint
Francis embraced organ donation and has been a lead-
ing donor hospital for decades—and that’s all because
of our community,” she said. “Since the beginning of
our donation program, our community has responded
well. In fact, their response was so great that our hos-
pital has consistently been the top donation hospital,
and continues to hold this honor.”
Dr. Ketel’s hands-on experience organizing
the medical center’s first donor donation program
afforded her the experience and skill set necessary to
work with the Gift of Hope board. “She could look at
things from a much higher level. She wanted to help
everyone, not just her patients. As a result, Saint Fran-
cis has been consistently the top one or two donor
hospital [according to data collected through the Gift
of Hope Network], and I think a lot of credit goes to
her steady force,” Mr. Anderson said.
Dr. Ketel also enjoyed the status of practicing in
Midwestern medical circles. With Chicago and its
renowned medical institutions less than two hours
away, she was pitted into “deep competition and the
prestige that comes with it.”
The Saint Francis transplantation program seemed
to grow and evolve all on its own, according to
Dr. Ketel. “I didn’t realize how poised the commu-
nity was for this program. We never had to work hard
to make this work.” Dr. Ketel further explained that
the hospital’s staff and physicians all readily adopted
and promoted the transplantation practices required
to successfully run the program.
The OSF Saint Francis health care system as a
whole has grown as well. It provided health care
services to more than 693,000 patients in 2014, and
its patient base draws from within 250 miles of
Peoria, as well as a three-state region (Illinois, Mis-
souri, and Iowa) for its specialized services, including
the transplant program, according to the OSF Saint
Francis’s 2014 annual report.* OSF Saint Francis Medi-
cal Center, Peoria, is the largest of the health care
system’s institutions and is host to the Children’s Hos-
pital of Illinois, OSF Heart Hospital, and the Illinois
Neurological Institute and is a major teaching affili-
ate of the University of Illinois College of Medicine
A new beginning
Now, at age 66, Dr. Ketel is carefully considering
her “next career.” She knows that she wants to stay
in Peoria and help disenfranchised elderly patients
secure needed medical attention. “It won’t be medi-
cal, but it will be social work. I have not completely
decided yet. I’m just going to play this summer and
then make a decision.”
Her husband also is retired, and their three adult
children are launching their own careers: a daughter
as a pediatric internal medicine physician; a son as an
attorney; and another son as a database developer.
Since she left Saint Francis in April, there’s been
a noticeable lack of stress, a byproduct of no longer
dealing with “all of the life and death decisions you
have to make every day [in the profession],” she noted.
Yet, Dr. Ketel said it’s “hard not to miss surgery.
There are a lot of articles out there about the general
unhappiness of surgeons because it can be a hard life.
I have worked a lot of hours, and with my husband
being a doctor, he has, too. [But] I think if you ask
my children, they were all right with everything.
This has been the most rewarding career for me. I
can’t imagine anything else for me that would be as
satisfying. I’ve been very happy.” ♦
*OSF Saint Francis. Annual Report. Available at: annualreport.osfhealth-care.org/. Accessed July 23, 2015.
TRANSPLANT SURGEON REFLECTS
From a technical standpoint, Dr. Ketel said, kidney transplantation
has changed little over the last few decades, but transplantation
drugs have certainly evolved. The transplantation success rate was
50 percent in 1984; today, it is 91 percent to 92 percent.