Health Team

Father's disease changes daughter's career path

Libby Gorbe is pursuing a medical degree so she can offer hope to people in the same way her father did.

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In 2005, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student Libby Gorbe organized a fundraising walk for Polycystic kidney disease.

She saw it as a way to help her father, who had the disease, also called PKD.

PKD is the most common genetic, life-threatening disease. Cysts grow on the kidneys, and they get bigger as a person ages. Eventually, the cysts overwhelm the kidneys.

"My father and two sisters had it, his mother had it, and I have it," Bob Gorbe said in 2005.

He was on a waiting list for a kidney transplant when Libby last spoke to him on Father's Day in 2008.

"He mentioned at the time that he was feeling nauseous, and he had just the headache of his life," she said.

Bob Gorbe had a brain aneurysm – a complication of PKD – and died at 60 years of age.

Her father and her work on the PKD Walk inspired Libby to change her career goal.

"It just kind of put things in perspective about the kind of effect I could have on other people. Medicine just seemed like ultimately more fundamental," she said.

Libby is about to begin her second year at the University of Missouri medical school, where she will focus on emergency medicine.

She wants to offer every patient hope. It's what her dad was all about.

"Up until that day, he was so hopeful about getting a transplant," Libby recalled. "I'm really inspired by him. And you can't ever lose hope. He said that."

In 2005, Bob Gorbe told WRAL News, "You have to be hopeful. I mean there's no other way you can approach that. You just have to be hopeful."

Libby Gorbe won't know if she inherited PKD until tests are done when she turns 30. So far, she has no sign of the disease.

She plans to run in a PKD marathon in Chicago this fall.



Allen Mask, M.D., Reporter
Rick Armstrong, Photographer
Jodi Leese Glusco, Web Editor

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