December 13, 2016
DALLAS (SMU) – After surviving two childhood liver transplants, followed by years of related medical complications, SMU senior Libby Arterburn is determined to live a life of significance. She will graduate from SMU Dec. 17 with degrees in health and society, psychology and a minor in biology, which she intends to apply toward a medical career.
Arterburn was diagnosed at age six weeks with antitrypsin deficiency disorder, a rare genetic condition in which the body does not make enough of a protein that protects the liver and lungs from damage. By the time she was four, she required a life-saving liver transplant. Complications led to a second transplant two days later.
Since then, Arterburn has endured regular liver biopsies, multiple hospitalizations and the side effects of anti-rejection drugs. It has left her determined to speak out on the importance of organ donation and to improve the lives of children with chronic illnesses.
"I have spent every major holiday in the hospital at one time or another," she says. That is why she and her mother bring Christmas gifts to children hospitalized at Children's Medical Center during the holidays. In addition, Arterburn has served as a counselor at Camp Soar, a camp for transplant recipients, and has spoken publically about organ transplantation at the University of Texas Southwestern, Baylor University Medical Center and Children's Medical Center.
A high-achieving student, at SMU Arterburn was chosen to become a Dedman Scholar, and a member of the University Honors Program, Psi Chi psychology honor society, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and AED pre-health fraternity. She also has volunteered her time for Relay for Life, Donate Life, Girls on the Run, the Salvation Army and Children’s Medical Center.
Arterburn is among the first students to earn the Health and Society major introduced at SMU in 2015-2016 – an interdisciplinary program for students interested in the practice and study of health in global contexts. She plans to attend graduate school to become a physicians' assistant.