Transplant cardiologist Alfred Asante-Korang, M.D., joined the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital family more than 20 years ago. He manages the care of heart transplant, cardiomyopathy and heart failure patients. Dr. A-K (as he’s known to his patients and throughout the hospital) became fascinated with heart transplantation during his pediatric cardiology fellowship at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, which has one of the largest transplant institutes in the world. His personal motto is, “Give 100% effort to whatever you do. Always be at your best!” We checked in with him about his work at the hospital and his thoughts on Black History Month.
Tell us about what you do in a typical day.
I usually start my day with morning sign-out from 7 to 7:30 a.m. After that, it’s hospital rounds, performing heart biopsies or seeing patients in the clinic, depending on whether I am scheduled for inpatient or outpatient responsibilities that day.
What is your favorite thing about working at the hospital?
The staff and the leadership team are wonderful. Johns Hopkins All Children’s provides almost all the pediatric subspecialty services, so we hardly ever need to send our very sick and complex patients to other centers. We are the best children’s hospital in the state. But most of all, my patients are the reason I get up each morning ready to go to work. I feel lucky to be their doctor and their friend.
This year’s Black History Month theme is Black Health and Wellness. What does this mean to you?
This is a crucial issue for the Black community, which has suffered a long history of health disparities.
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought to the forefront the health inequities African Americans have experienced over the years. Blacks are also more likely to die from diseases like cancer, hypertension, diabetes and heart disease. There is a strong campaign for Blacks to get routine medical checkups and screening tests, as well as vaccination against the virus that causes COVID-19. Another emphasis this year is mental health, which plays a large part in overall wellness. It has long been regarded as a stigma in the Black community, and as a result, African Americans are less likely to seek help when it comes to mental health.
Tell us about a Black American you admire or think people should learn more about.
A Black American I admire tremendously is Sidney Poitier. He came from humble beginnings to become the first Black man to win the prestigious Academy Award. He persevered to not only act in several movies but also become a director and producer of several movies centered around the issues of race and race relations. His pioneering work ushered in a new era and paved the way for other Black actors in Hollywood.