An Akron Children’s Hospital pediatric cardiologist and one of his mentors were honored last month as “Heart Champions” at 2 separate American Heart Association Heart Ball events in Youngstown and Akron, respectively.
Dr. Chandrakant Patel, director of maternal-fetal cardiology at The Heart Center in Akron, and Dr. Peter Vande Kappelle, Jr. from Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley, accepted their respective awards in front of family, medical colleagues and even one of their patients. The tributes honoring their contributions to pediatric heart health were dotted with the heartwarming personal stories from parents of children whose lives were literally touched by these physicians.
“Dr. Patel’s reputation around the country is stellar, and the passion he shows when working with patients and their families, as well as the contributions he’s made toward advancing children’s cardiac health made him a well-deserved choice for this award,” said Colleen Repie, metro executive director of the American Heart Association’s Akron division.
The Gwyer family from Akron attended the event to speak about the care orchestrated by Dr. Patel to save the life of their 8-month-old daughter Charlotte, who was born with a series of heart defects, as well as about the importance of supporting research efforts in heart health. Dr. Patel performed a life-saving surgery on Charlotte when she was eight days old.
Dr. Patel’s interest in medicine traces back to his youth. He knew in high school that he wanted to pursue a career in medicine, and he’d often visit and observe his uncle, who was a physician, work in his clinic. Dr. Patel went on to study biology in college in India, and placed first in his graduating class of 1,800 students.
He attended medical school in Baroda, India, and then came to the United States and completed an internship and residency in pediatrics at St. Agnes Hospital in Baltimore, Md. He went on to complete a fellowship in pediatric cardiology at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, and joined the staff of The Heart Center at Akron Children’s Hospital in 2001.
Youngstown Heart Ball honors Dr. Vande Kappelle
Dr. Vande Kappelle has earned a national reputation in pediatric cardiology. For more than 10 years, he has presented across the Midwest to medical students and professionals on pediatric cardiology topics, and he is a member in training for the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology.
“I was both thrilled and humbled to be recognized by the American Heart Association, particularly to be honored with one of my mentors, Dr. Patel,” Dr. Vande Kappelle said. “The credit I get from patients’ families for just doing my job surprises me all the time.
“With respect to the American Heart Association, the work it does with research and promoting the future of cardiology is exciting, and I’m honored to be a part of it.”
Three year-old Bekah Plant of Mineral Ridge and her family joined Dr. Vande Kappelle at the Youngstown Heart Ball. Bekah’s mother Sarah shared her account of how he provided a much-needed ray of hope after diagnosing a complex set of heart defects and executing a treatment plan that saved Bekah’s life.
Dr. Vande Kappelle said the first time he saw an echocardiogram that showed how blood moves through the heart made a lasting impression on him, and inspired him to specialize in cardiology.
“Pediatric cardiology is based on birth defects, and the intricacies of how they evolve just fits with how my brain functions. I enjoy the challenge and knowing that we can help these kids,” he said. “Thirty or 40 years ago we couldn’t help many of them, but the field has advanced so far that we can help almost all of them now.”