Doug Kapustin, Special to The Baltimore Sun
September 12, 2010
Liver specialist, University of Maryland Medical Center
As a first-year fellow, Darryn Potosky was presented with a patient who came in with advanced cirrhosis. Though only in her 30s, the woman was in trouble. Despite her denials, other doctors had labeled her an alcoholic. Potosky wasn't so sure.
He investigated why her liver got so sick, so fast -- it looked like an organ that belonged to a lifelong heavy drinker. It turns out, she had a genetic disease that exacerbated the effects of alcohol.
Potosky not only saved the woman's life; he listened to her.
"So much of what someone wants is just someone who cares," says Potosky, who lives in Columbia with his wife of 10 years and his 3-year-old son. "It's important to recognize that because not everyone does."
A key part of Potosky's job is indentifying candidates for liver transplants, getting them strong enough for the intense surgery and working with them afterward to ward off rejection. His are extremely sick patients with complex levels of disease that require extensive training to handle -- which could be why few physicians choose to specialize in the liver.
Potosky is working to change that mindset, speaking to his colleagues whenever he gets a chance. As a resident, about 150 of his classmates voted him the best teacher of the class -- multiple years running.