ESS 2021: Health emergency inspires student to seek career in medicine
July 12, 2021
Caitlynn Alimboyao
Grade: 12 School: Vallejo High School District: Vallejo City USD ACSA region: 4 For Caitlynn Alimboyao, “paying it forward” is a value she champions at school, in her community and with her family. After surviving a life-threatening medical emergency when she was 5 years old, Caitlynn learned from an early age to appreciate the service and support of those around her, and strives each day to give back. She embraces her Filipino heritage through community groups, volunteering and learning about her cultural history. Her inspiration comes from her family, especially her mom, and the health professionals and educators who supported her recovery. Caitlynn’s goal is to become a pediatrician, helping others as she was helped.
What was your reaction when you found out you won the ACSA Every Student Succeeding award? I remember being incredibly honored to receive this award. It was definitely a surprise that my life was going to be acknowledged by people all over the world. I think it’s really special that there’s a platform for kids to be able to share their stories.
You underwent a lot of medical procedures at a young age. Can you walk us through some of those challenges? When I was 5, I was diagnosed with stage 4 kidney failure. It started with continuous fever that lasted for three days, and then I had to go to the emergency room at Kaiser. And then they performed an ultrasound and realized that something was wrong, so I went to Children’s Hospital in Oakland. From there, they realized that I had an enlarged kidney and an enlarged heart. And they needed to give me a blood transfusion. After the surgeries to insert the PICC line into my arm and the blood transfusion, I was still sick. There were seven doctors who came from all over the world who came to see me in my condition because it was the first case they saw in Children Oakland’s Hospital. My veins collapsed because they had to draw blood from me seven to eight times a day. They needed to find the medicine for the bacteria I had, and only after they found it that is when I got better. The doctors said there were no traces of the enlarged heart or the kidney. It was a miracle. It was like nothing ever happened.
Five years old is such a young age to have to deal with something of this magnitude. How did you react to all of it? It definitely is a young age. And I do have my mom to thank for being there 24/7. I always looked for her in the hospital room. She was always there. I think that she always gave me some comfort. I knew that she was there, and it was going to be OK. And I’m also grateful for all of the doctors and nurses who were there because they were fighting for my life when I couldn’t myself.
Your mom is important to you. What was it like being raised by a single mother? Growing up, I definitely did see the financial struggles and the hardships that she faced while raising a family of four. She really is my role model. I look up to her a lot. I hope that I can give back to her and do the same good that she did for me.
Your future plans involve a career in medicine. How much does that stem from the medical issues you faced growing up? Being in the hospital definitely gave me my exposure to the medical field. I feel like I did get to see the magic behind it. I do want to be a part of the giving end. And I want to be someone who takes initiative to do good without getting anything in return. I really feel like that’s what a pediatrician captures the essence of.
Region 4 2021 Every Student Succeeding winner Caitlynn Alimboyao
Region 4 2021 Every Student Succeeding winner Caitlynn Alimboyao
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