Casey O’Connell, MD, is a hematologist at Keck Medicine of USC, who specializes in treating both cancerous and noncancerous blood conditions.
Here’s what you won’t find on her resume.
The will to help others motivated her to become a physician.
“I decided to go to medical school after my first year of college at Stanford. At the time, there was a famine in Africa, and my friends and I were all very passionate about wanting to do something, but it quickly became apparent that we didn’t have any skills to offer in that situation. That’s when I realized that my life would be more rewarding if my job could entail something that actually resulted in helping people.”
Education is a key component of her philosophy of care.
“I really emphasize arming patients with an understanding of their disease. I tend to spend a lot of time educating the patient. This includes educating them on the disease or condition, how to find more information and how our recommended treatments will work toward alleviating the symptoms or the disease itself. This gives them the tools to be empowered to make choices in the most educated manner possible.”
She focuses her research on catching blood disorders before they become cancer.
“My specific research focus is in preleukemic diseases of our bone marrow. I’m very interested in how to treat patients who have these disorders, so we can help prevent the disorder from evolving into leukemia. My other interests include clotting and bleeding disorders and autoimmune blood disorders.”
A great mentor inspired her to pursue hematology.
“In my second month as an intern at Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center, I was in the hematology ward. I had the great fortune to work with Dr. Alexandra Levine, a renowned hematologist and then-chair of the hematology division at the Keck School. She is a very special person, who inspired me to pursue a specialty in hematology. I later met and had the opportunity to work with Dr. Donald Feinstein, who had been her mentor. I knew then that hematologists really embody the combination of humanism and intellect that I was looking for in my career.”
Her hobbies include competing in athletic events.
“I enjoy sports. I have run in a couple of marathons, and my husband and I ran a triathlon. I also love to dance.”
She’s surrounded by a family of entrepreneurs, philanthropists and physicians.
“I’m from Niagara Falls, New York. My parents have an entrepreneurial spirit. They ran a tour company, a tavern and, later, a trucking company. My parents-in-law are the founders of the nonprofit organization Operation Smile. My husband is a pediatric craniofacial surgeon at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.”
She takes pride in the division’s legacy.
“We have a legacy of being excellent diagnosticians. Frequently, patients who are referred to us have undetermined diagnoses, or they are referred by other experts who are stumped. Physicians refer to us to help solve the puzzle.”
View Dr. O’Connell’s full biography and schedule an appointment.