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Patient Stories

Inspired to Run by a Lifetime of Care

Kerri Pietragallo

Kerri Pietragallo was driven to run the 126th Boston Marathon by her personal experience of being a patient of Mass Eye and Ear.

Kerri Pietragallo, a longtime patient of Mass Eye and Ear, is making her marathon debut this spring as a member of Team Eye and Ear. Directly impacted by the top-notch research and care provided at the hospital, Pietragallo wants to give back to all the amazing doctors and staff members that have helped her both combat her hearing loss and accept herself for who she is. Pietragallo explained that “As a lifelong patient of Mass Eye and Ear, when deciding one of my goals was to run the Boston Marathon, Team Eye and Ear was a no brainer.”

Embracing her differences 

As a child, Pietragallo became extremely susceptible to recurring ear infections. At age 6, her parents brought her to Mass Eye and Ear for the first time where she would meet Leila Mankarious, MD. Specializing in pediatric ear, nose and throat care, Dr. Mankarious was able to diagnose her with a cholesteatoma, a growth wrapped around her right ear bone, which was causing severe hearing loss. After several operations on the right ear and replacing the bone with a prosthesis, Pietragallo’s treatment required numerous trips to Mass Eye and Ear through the rest of her childhood and adolescence. When she became an adult, she began seeing Felipe Santos, MD, chief of otology and neurotology.

“I thought the search of finding some as great as Dr. Mankarious was going to be impossible, but I was quickly proven wrong when I met Dr. Santos,” she said.

She added that her doctors have made sure that if she needed her prosthesis replaced, that it would be the latest technology. She continues to be a patient of Mass Eye and Ear.

Pietragallo said her experience throughout her life and the care and guidance of her medical team has given her the confidence to embrace her differences.

“My parents and Dr. Mankarious always told me to never left my difference hold me back,” she said. “I have embraced the challenges my hearing loss has caused, and I am now the first member of my family that holds a master’s degree.”

Born to run 

Starting to run only three years ago, Pietragallo began with a single mile every few days, but eventually got hooked. After completing her first half marathon, she felt and knew she was ready for the challenge of training for a full marathon. Through the guidance of seasoned coach Fred Tressler and the rest of the Mass Eye and Ear marathon team, Pietragallo feels equipped and prepared for April, backed with expert guidance from nutritional to race day tips.

Though training for a marathon is no walk in the park, Pietragallo shares that fundraising for a cause so close to her is beyond rewarding, and she is continuously reminded of the generosity of those close to her who have witnessed her journey at Mass Eye and Ear firsthand.

“I would like to run in honor of all of the young children of Mass Eye and Ear to show that anything is possible if you put your mind to it,” Pietragallo shared. “I would not be where I am today without the amazing support from my family and everyone at Mass Eye and Ear.”

Good luck to Kerri and the rest of Team Eye and Ear! Donate to members of Team Eye and Ear.