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She now joins USA Health as part of the trauma team with a passion for quality of life outcomes for burn patients. She is also interested in abdominal wall reconstruction and pursuing cardiopulmonary trauma research.

Published Jan 26th, 2021

By Lindsay Fletcher
lfletcher@health.southalabama.edu

As a child growing up in Abia, a state in southeastern Nigeria, Maryann Mbaka saw needs all around her. Diseases were ravaging those in her community. Visiting a doctor took an entire day, and if someone needed surgery, it was often considered a death sentence because of the distance required to travel to see a surgeon.

“These things opened up my eyes to the need and made the decision to pursue medicine and surgery an easy one,” said Mbaka, who recently joined USA Health as a trauma/critical care and burn surgeon.

At age 13, she and her family migrated to Houston. She lived there until she moved to Louisiana to attend Northwestern State University where she studied mathematics and biology and played soccer. After earning an undergraduate degree, she spent a year at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM), conducting research focused on the cardiovascular and cerebrovascular areas.

During medical school at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas, Mbaka realized that she thrived on the long hours and being in the operating theater.

“Going through medical education, I noticed that being at the hospital early and late didn’t cause me to tire out but rather gave me an exhilarating feeling that I was making a difference,” she said. “Knowing that patients were trusting me with their health with every encounter was a humbling experience.”

She was elected to the Gold Humanism Honor Society during medical school, and the passion of a mentor during her surgical internship put her on the path to trauma/critical care and burn surgery. She then completed surgery residencies at the University of South Carolina and the University of California San Francisco as well as a trauma/surgical critical care fellowship at the University of Florida.

She now joins USA Health as part of the trauma team with a passion for quality of life outcomes for burn patients. She is also interested in abdominal wall reconstruction and pursuing cardiopulmonary trauma research.

“I wanted to be in a level 1 trauma center with a good relationship with the community, a track record of educating residents and students well, and in a place that was in close proximity to family,” she said. “When I visited USA, my future colleagues felt like family, and the people in various leadership positions had a good vision for the future of USA as an institution.”

As part of the region’s only academic health system, Mbaka is an assistant professor of surgery at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine.

She is married to an internist and created a non-profit organization Living Kings and Queens Inc. with a goal of improving the quality of life of those in her local community, an idea that was born from the needs she saw growing up in Nigeria.

Mbaka loves soccer, running, spending time with church family and spending time with her own family, especially her nephews. She loves to travel and has lived in five different states before moving to Alabama.

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