We lost a very dear friend and colleague, Dr. Karen E. King, on January 5, 2018 at the age of 56. Karen graduated from Wellesley College (1982) and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine (1986). She went on to complete her residency in Pathology (1991) and fellowship in Transfusion Medicine (1993-1996), after which she was recruited to the Hopkins faculty in 1996. She subsequently rose to the ranks of Professor in 2016, becoming the 227th woman Professor at Hopkins. Karen brought immense enthusiasm, hope, and strength to all that she did, and it was through these unique qualities that she cared for patients, taught students and colleagues, pioneered new horizons in transfusion medicine, and battled cancer until the very end. Karen was known for her intellect, energy, and brilliant smile, which she shared freely with her family, friends, colleagues, and the many students, residents and fellows whom she taught. She considered her students and mentees to be family, providing a role model to all who had the privilege of working and learning from her. A beloved teacher, Karen was awarded the Resident’s Teaching Award. First and foremost, she led by example and inspired others by her indefatigable efforts on behalf of her patients and trainees. Karen encouraged those around her to dream big and realize all that their careers could evolve into, shying away from pre-established conventions. Through her work in pathology and transfusion medicine, she was affectionately known as the institution’s “interventional pathologist”. Not content to fill an assigned role, she created something unique and unmatched. Perhaps more than most anything else, Karen was an inspiration to all of those who have worked with her over the years.
She was also a dedicated physician-scientist whose contributions advanced the field and therapy for countless patients. Karen built the Hemapheresis and Transfusion Support (HATS) Division at Hopkins from the ground up; this program provides specialized transfusion care to diverse patients with complicated medical disorders. She served not only as the Medical Director of HATS, Director of the Transfusion Medicine Fellowship, but also the Associate Director of the Pathology Residency Program and Associate Medical Director of Transfusion Medicine. She was recognized worldwide as an expert in apheresis and the management of complex immunologic and blood disorders, including sickle cell anemia, cancer, neurologic disorders, and organ transplantation. Thanks to Karen, today over 2500 therapeutic apheresis cases are performed at Johns Hopkins every year. To advance our understanding and care of complicated patients requiring blood transfusion, she was a prolific scientist, imparting her knowledge and expertise through the medical literature and over 60 invited lectures throughout the world. Karen was honored with the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) Presidential Award this past October in recognition of her “tremendous service to AABB through education, mentorship and numerous appointments to AABB committees, including associate editor of Transfusion and for her leadership in apheresis and organ transplant immunohematology as well as her devotion to training junior members in the field of transfusion medicine.”
In addition to her medical career, Karen was a talented pianist who trained at the Peabody Conservatory and in France at the École des Beaux-Arts at Fountainebleu. She also established an exchange program whereby students from Japan came to study at Hopkins, and Hopkins students had the opportunity to study in Japan.
Karen is survived by her husband, Porter Siems, their three children, Lilly, Elizabeth, and Matthew, her brother Ted Jr, and her mother, Mrs. Lilly King. Karen’s father, Dr. Theodore King, was a long-term member of the Hopkins family. He served as the Vice President for Medical Affairs, Director of the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, and he helped to establish the Johns Hopkins Program for International Education in Gynecology and Obstetrics (JHPIEGO).
Simply put, Karen was a much-loved member of the Department of Pathology and Hopkin’s family. Her impact was beyond measure, and she will live on in the hearts and memories of those she touched.
Karen’s family will receive well-wishers at Ruck’s Funeral Home in Towson (1050 York Road, Beltway exit 26) on Friday, January 12th, from 3 pm to 5 pm and from 7 pm to 9 pm, and a memorial service will be held at the Church of the Redeemer (5603 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21210) on Saturday, January 13th at 11 am. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Hopewell Cancer Support, 10628 Falls Rd., Lutherville, MD 21093 or Wellesley College.
~ January 2018
2017 AABB President’s Award
This honor recognizes the extraordinary public service and contributions of an individual or an organization in the health care arena. The recipient’s work furthers AABB’s goals and missions.
Recipient: Karen E. King, MD
Citation: In recognition of her tremendous service to AABB through education, mentorship and numerous appointments to AABB committees, including associate editor of TRANSFUSION. For her leadership in apheresis and organ transplant immunohematology and her devotion to training junior members in the field of transfusion medicine
AABB is an international, not-for-profit association representing individuals and institutions involved in the fields of transfusion medicine and cellular therapies. The association is committed to improving health through the development and delivery of standards, accreditation and educational programs that focus on optimizing patient and donor care and safety. AABB membership includes physicians, nurses, scientists, researchers, administrators, medical technologists and other health care providers. AABB members are located in more than 80 countries and AABB accredits institutions in over 50 countries.
~ August 2017
Congratulations, Dr. Eric Gehrie!
The educational blog “Blood Bank Guy” just published a new podcast episode today featuring our very own, Dr. Eric Gehrie. In this blog Eric discusses complications resulting from transfusion to patients with sickle cell disease, primarily alloimmunization. Congratulations, Eric!
~ April 2017
Congratulations, Sonja Vozniak!
Congratulations to Sonja Vozniak, R.N., Nurse Clinician III, of Pathology’s HATS Division (Hemapheresis And Transfusion Support), the recipient of the 2016 Renay Tyler Ambulatory Nursing Leadership Award. Sonja was recognized for improving the quality of care and experience of her patients, for her innovative approaches to problem-solving, for being a role model and mentor, and for demonstrating the highest level of integrity, respect and collegiality. Sonja is seen as an outstanding resource for both the nurses and physicians, a great asset to her peers and is responsible for their training and competencies. Furthermore, you never see Sonja without a smile on her face and a willingness to help! We in the Department of Pathology are proud of Sonja and very grateful for her commitment to our patients.
~ March 2017