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A Hope-filled Legacy for Riley Colleagues

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Before 6-year-old Dallin Easton entered the Riley operating room in August 2015, he carefully selected a pleasant scent to add to the anesthesia mask that would be placed over his face. Bigger decisions, such as how much anesthesia to administer, were left to the capable hands of Riley Hospital’s anesthesia team―a team that came together to support pediatric anesthesia research so that care will keep advancing for children like Dallin.

Gopal Krishna, M.D., and Doris Hardacker, M.D., wanted to honor their colleague Stephen Dierdorf, M.D., upon his retirement. Dr. Krishna was the founding director of the pediatric anesthesia program in 1973, and Dr. Dierdorf was one of his early recruits in 1978. “During all of his career he has been very interested in research and has published and lectured extensively,” explains Dr. Krishna. “We felt we needed to recognize him for all the contributions he has made to Riley Hospital, the anesthesia department and to IU in general.”

Dr. Krishna and Dr. Hardacker reached out to colleagues in the Pediatric Anesthesia section, directed by Scott Walker, M.D., inviting them to make gifts in order to establish the Stephen F. Dierdorf, M.D. Endowment Fund for Research in Pediatric Anesthesia. They also contacted former colleagues and residents who trained with Dr. Dierdorf. “They still have a connection to Riley through him, and they want to honor that,” says Dr. Hardacker. “I think it is wonderful that this fund allows us all to remain connected despite working in different parts of the country and world.”

By summer of 2015, Dr. Dierdorf’s colleagues had met their goal to fully fund the endowment. “It was a very humbling thing,” confesses Dr. Dierdorf. “I’ve been fortunate early in my career to work with some incredibly forward-thinking people. Dr. Krishna is certainly at the top of the list.”

Dr. Dierdorf is grateful for his colleagues and all the donors who support the fund in his name. He has seen the way those funds make a difference for children. “Almost every day you can think of something we need to know,” he explains. Thanks to these gifts, Riley anesthesiologists can count on being able to continue investigating issues such as airway management, cardiovascular and pulmonary systems’ responses to anesthesia, and pain management during recovery.

Although he is now retired, it gives Dr. Dierdorf hope to think of the future discoveries that will help the next generation of children: “The research we do today pays dividends sometimes five or 10 years down the road.”

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