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With Al-Agbas, medicine is all in the family
In the fourth grade Niran Al-Agba invited a pathologist to speak to her class who then invited the students to visit his Harrison Hospital office.
While many of the children blanched at the organ-filled jars, one pigtailed girl marveled.
Here was this little girl going around looking at brains and hearts, said Dr. Saad Al-Agba as he and daughter Niran pieced together memories Wednesday afternoon.
After that, shed say I was born to be a doctor, he said laughing.
Two weeks ago Dr. Niran Al-Agba, now 27 and fresh from her residency at Denver Childrens Hospital, joined her fathers Silverdale Pediatrics practice.
Although as a child Niran wanted to be a pathologist because she thought chromosomes were the neatest thing, she changed her specialty to children.
Another memory bubbles to the surface.
As a senior in high school Niran attended an autopsy, something her dad gets squeamish about even after 32 years of practicing medicine.
I never liked that kind of stuff, he said.
This new addition to the practice has spun rumors of the original Dr. Al-Agbas retirement.
Although he plans to take some time to watch his sons compete in national tennis competitions, Al-Agba, 66, said he is at least 10 years from retirement.
I want to break the record, he said.
As dad and daughter settle into their doctor-to-doctor roles, it becomes clear the relationships are not so easily divided.
Niran said its strange calling her dad Dr. Al-Agba, but the formality is sometimes overlooked.
She still calls me dad and I call her honey, Al-Agba said.
Both Al-Agbas beam as the other talks, they laugh with and admire one another as only family can do.
I love it more and more, Niran said. I feel lucky to be able to do something I love that much, she said.
Niran is a Silverdale native and in her first two weeks she has even seen a few children whose parents were her Olympic High School classmates. She is a graduate of Michigan State University, but not just any graduate her dad points out.
Niran was one of 15 students out of a graduating class of 7,500 chosen for outstanding performance. She then graduated from the University of Washington Medical School and did her residency at Denver Childrens Hospital, a far cry from a small town family practice.
It had a seven-state referral area, Niran said of the Denver hospital.
We saw the sickest of the kids. Every day it was a crisis all the time, she said.
At Silverdale Pediatrics, the younger Dr. Al-Agba is learning the subtleties of everyday illnesses such as sore throats, runny noses and constipation.
He really runs this place like an old time practice, she said.
Its a place patients visit for years if not generations.
The thought of taking care of a generation of patients is so exciting. Thats an experience I wouldnt be able to get anywhere else, she said.
Patients also now have their choice of generations and gender of doctor. Silverdale Pediatrics has moved to a larger building at 9615 Levin, Suite 101.
The older Al-Agba calls the father-daughter team the joining of old and the new. The same and different.
I love people and like medicine, he said. She loves people and loves medicine.
During his career he has seen more women enter the field and less children admitted into the hospital.
If they have problems, they come in early so we can treat them. I cant remember the last time I admitted a child to the hospital, he said.
We used to admit more patients than we do now. People are aware of their kids health.
Al-Agba said his daughter has already impressed people her first weeks here. Niran said she is the one who is awed.
Sometimes I just have to pinch myself to realize Im here, she said.