Plainview native touching lives of transplant patients

April 9, 2010

CLEVELAND, OHIO – When life literally hangs by a thread of hope on a transplanted organ, patients want to make sure they’ve got the brightest and best medical staff on their side. Good thing the folks at Case Medical Center in Ohio have Raelene Trudeau nearby.

A native of Plainview and 2003 Wayland Baptist University graduate, Trudeau is the pharmacy specialist for solid organ transplantation for the University Hospitals facility, working with a team of surgeons, dietitians, nurses and financial counselors, all skilled in the needs of transplant patients.

Trudeau said the job is a dream for someone who loves the pharmacy world but still wants to maintain care of patients. 

The route to her current reality was pretty traditional... to a point. Trudeau graduated from Plainview High and chose Wayland after a campus visit made an impression.

“They genuinely seemed to care about us and what we would be doing. After that, I decided it was probably a good fit for me,” she said, noting that she earned a good scholarship that helped with expenses. “The professors really do care about the students, and we’re not just a number there. Drs. (Joel) Boyd, (Harold) Temple, and (Adam) Reinhart were all very helpful in shaping me for where I’d end up. They were a good support system.”

Trudeau said the mentorship of WBU faculty was instrumental in forming her path since they helped her with internships and introduced her to other summer opportunities.

After WBU, she earned the Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Texas Tech in 2007. She then chose to do a two-year residency at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Mo. There, she spent two rotations in transplantation, feeling her passion begin to take shape.           

“I liked that the transplant area brings together critical care, internal medicine and other issues,” she said. “I knew I wanted to work in a hospital because you got to work with patients more on a one-on-one basis and with physicians and nurses as well, working on the medications patients are taking.”

She started her job at CMC in August 2009 and has not been disappointed. A typical day involves morning rounds with the kidney specialists, the most active group at Case with about 400 patients on the waiting list. She reviews the patients’ medications, making sure there are no interactions and works on therapy options for the individuals. The afternoons are spent counseling patients being discharged, dealing with outpatient issues for previous patients or those on waiting lists, reviewing their medications to ensure nothing will interfere with the transplant process once an organ is located as a match.

Trudeau said while the hospital has had 20 patients admitted at one time, the number typically stays a little lower, with heart, lung, pancreas and liver transplant patients comprising a much smaller population than kidney patients.

While Trudeau has conquered many challenges through her schooling, residency and now her first official job, she said the foundation started back in those Moody Science Building classes at WBU.

“I felt prepared for everything,” she said. “The smaller classes provided more one-on-one help, and there was definitely someone there to talk to about school or other issues. They really did care about me.”