From Riley Kid to Med Student


February 12, 2016
Topics: Heart (cardiology)



jessica blog image
Jessica Houk at Riley Hospital

My heart belongs to Riley because the staff here gave me the chance to live the life I do today.

I recently began my first inpatient pediatric rotation as a third year medical student on the pediatric cardiology floor. I was born on April 30, 1991 in respiratory distress. I was transferred to Riley that day and at 16 days Dr. John Brown performed open heart surgery for a congenital heart condition called a pulmonary artery sling. I was followed through high school by Dr. Joyce Hubbard, a cardiologist at Riley. In February of 1995, I broke out in a mild case of chicken pox that turned serious. I was transferred to Riley a second time for a hospital stay of three weeks battling bacteremia and undergoing debridement of an infection that had abscessed in my chest. While I do not remember much of this stay, I do remember squeezing my dad’s hands tight, the glass elevators, the stuffed animals, and leaving the hospital on my fourth birthday in a red wagon (but not before stopping for mint chocolate chip ice cream at the cafeteria on my way out.) 

Although I don’t remember much, my experience as a Riley patient has had such a profound impact on my life. No one in my family is a doctor but somehow this idea planted itself in my head early on. When I voiced my plan to pursue medical school, my mom had wonderful things to say about the surgeons, cardiologists, and infectious disease team at Riley. I was inspired. I wanted to do something to pay it forward. 

My health complications were minor in comparison to the struggles that I see Riley families facing on a day to day basis as a student. I hope that by writing this story I can provide parents and kids with hope: anything is possible with the Riley team behind your child. 

I am a third year medical student who ran my second full marathon this past fall. During my long runs I usually spend a lot of my time being thankful. 

My heart is full of gratitude. 


Jessica Houk

Jessica is originally from the Fortville, Ind., and attended Purdue University, majoring in Health Sciences and Biology. She is now am a third year medical student at Indiana University School of Medicine. Jessica is thankful for her wonderful parents, and her younger brother who is now a sophomore at IU Bloomington. She enjoys running marathons, reading, being with her family, friends and her dog, and spending time at the lake.


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