Jason Heard, Phoenix Education Grant Recipient, Pursues a Medical Career
Jason’s pursuit of a medical career grew from his desire to help fellow burn survivors.
Since Jason’s injury, he has been heavily involved in the burn community. He attended the Miracle Burn Camp of Iowa, a camp for pediatric burn survivors, as a child and has served as a counselor there for several years.
“At this camp, I learned that I was not alone, and there are many other burn survivors who have moved past their injuries to lead normal and fulfilling lives,” he said.
Jason’s daunting recovery at a young age inspired him to pursue a career that will allow him to guide others through their own healing process.
“Not only has my burn injury helped guide me down a path of medicine, it has also made me a stronger person. Being burned as a child forced me to be more mature than my peers who hadn’t gone through such a traumatic experience,” Jason said. “This maturity taught me to be more tolerant and accepting of those that are different and face other unique challenges.”
Jason worked for an autopsy service at a local hospital where he worked closely with Iowa Donor Network to coordinate tissue procurement. Donor tissue is used in a variety of medical procedures, including burn care.
Though he is not yet a doctor, Jason has already authored and co-authored several published research papers and presented at medical conferences.
He received a grant from the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors to help with his education. AlloSource pledged an annual contribution to the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors over 10 years to provide education grants for students like Jason.
One of Jason’s mentors is Dr. Barbara Latenser, who is the former burn director at the University of Iowa Burn Treatment Center. Dr. Latenser and Jason worked together on many different research projects and traveled to Zambia in 2009, 2011 and 2012.
While in Zambia, Jason and Dr. Latenser performed burn research and taught burn care in a rural hospital. They were involved in starting the first burn prevention program in that area of Zambia. During his time in Africa, Jason and his group educated over 5,000 students about burn and fire safety.
Jason hopes to one day build a burn prevention and care training center that would serve the entire continent of Africa.