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Change of Heart

Posted: June 19, 2014 3:38 p.m.
Updated: June 19, 2014 3:36 p.m.

         A natural athlete and competitive runner, Abraham Lin was sidelined in the early 1990s when an auto accident left him with a broken arm and an extended hospital stay. Fortunately, there was no loss of function in his arm, but the experience had a spiritual effect on the young man. He was very grateful for the well-trained medical professionals who helped him overcome the injury. Lin felt that maybe the incident was a sign from above pointing him toward a career in medicine.
         A native of North Carolina, Lin was reared by traditional Asian parents, Chin and Cheng Lin, who emigrated from Taiwan in the 1970s. Christian by faith, the Southern Baptist recalls, "My parents came from humble beginnings and worked very hard. They believed their sole purpose was providing for the family. They devoted everything to me getting an education. They prayed for me and supported me through 16 years of school."
         Sixteen years of medical research, residencies, and fellowships, which began when he graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Minor in Chemistry. Lin was accepted by Eastern Virginia Medical School, upon graduation from U.N.C., and completed his M.D. in 2005. Then it was on to the University of Florida for a residency in Internal Medicine and fellowships in General Cardiology and Intervention/Peripheral Cardiology. The extra time in training meant Lin had access to the large Florida retirement community with opportunities to gain valuable experience in taking care of patients' cardiac and vascular blockages.
Also while at U.F., Lin had the opportunity to train under one of interventional cardiology's early pioneers, Dr. C. Richard Conti, a physician whom he now credits with being an important early mentor. In 1996, for his contributions to cardiac medicine, Dr. Conti was elected to Johns Hopkins University's Society of Scholars. He served as Professor of Medicine and Director of the Cardiovascular Division at U.F. from 1974 until 1998. According to Lin, "He made cardiology what it is today. He taught me that the heart is a complicated instrument and we must respect it and take care of it."
         It was while attending U.F. that Lin met his wife, Farrah, a native of Alabama. Dr. Lin gives much credit to his wife for his success in medicine, "I have a strong supportive wife. I could not have done it without her. She makes me complete." The Lins are the proud parents of two boys: three-and-a-half-year-old Corbin Abraham Lin and 18-month-old Caiden Isaac Lin. "I believe like my parents - take care of family and loved ones first, and the rest falls into place," Dr. Lin said.
         Dr. Lin and his family moved to Statesboro last year when he joined the staff of Statesboro Cardiology to practice with Dr. Stanley Shin. "This is a good town to raise kids," he said. "So far my family has been very happy here."
         A strong advocate of preventive care, Dr. Lin stated, "If I could do this and treat people medicinally that would be best. No invasive treatment." But he is dedicated to serving East Georgia Regional Medical Centers' patients as needed with the latest in interventional cardiac technology. Dr. Lin has introduced a new procedure for clearing blockages in arteries and veins known as transradial intervention not previously available to patients at the hospital.
         Dr. Lin describes transradial treatment as, "Instead of entering the artery through the groin area to reach the blockage in one of the arteries near the heart, the entry is made through the wrist instead. This procedure is growing in popularity and has several patient benefits. Entering through the wrist means the procedure is less invasive; it requires less recovery time; there is less chance of bleeding; less anesthesia; less down time and quicker healing." Entry through the wrist also means the patient doesn't have to lie flat on his or her back for eight hours following the procedure with pressure on the incision site to prevent the entry site from bleeding.
         Although it is the preferred method of percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) in Europe and in Japan, adoption of transradial PCI in the U. S. has been slower than in other areas of the world. Interest is growing in the U.S., however, as increasing numbers of medical schools offer the training for medical students, and as patient demand for the treatment grows. Increasing exposure to radial interventions during interventional cardiology fellowships is viewed as a means to improve use of the transradial approach among U.S. physicians as well.
         Dr. Lin also notes, "Transradial procedures can also be used on arteries and veins for peripheral blockages in the legs, kidneys, and lungs." In addition, he believes the future of interventional and peripheral cardiology and vascular stent placement will include improvements in the stent material itself. "Previous generations of stents were made of wire mesh, while improvement in the current generation includes stents with drug coatings. The future of stents points to ones that are fully absorbable by arteries or veins over time," he said.
         The day will also come when endovascular stent grafts will be offered. That means a system for treating the full body will be available in the future to treat not only cardiac and vascular blockages, but also thoracic aneurysm repair. Dr. Lin believes EGRMC will lead the way in the region for the best in this interventional care.
         The biggest challenge so far for Dr. Lin has been, "Trying to be there for my family. I hope Farrah will give me more children, but I have to be home." He said, "I don't get stressed. But, you will work hard for what you want."
One of the great rewards for him is, "Being able to do what I love. There's a difference between a job and a career. I love my career. There is a great amount of self-fulfillment in doing what I love to do." But the family will always come first, "My family is number one. Going home every day - hearing that noise my family makes when I open the door - that makes it all worth it."


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