Published on June 23, 2020
The Passing of an E-Patient Giant
Early this June, one of the world’s leading patient advocates passed away from sepsis at the age of 51. I called Michael Seres a friend, and I am so sad.
Born in the United Kingdom, Michael was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease at age 12. Over the years, he had more than 25 surgeries and ultimately became the 11th patient in the UK to undergo a rare intestinal transplant. As he noted, “Going through a transplant where five out of the first ten died was incredibly scary.” But he survived.
When he failed to get traction in the UK for an invention that could help people who require ostomies, he moved his family to Orange County in California to seek financial support. There, he threw himself into patient advocacy and started a medical technology company to help those who suffer from digestive disease and complications. He also became the first-ever Patient-in-Residence at the Stanford Medicine X program, where he helped build a model of care and innovation called Everyone Included.
During the time Esther and I lived in Europe, we saw Michael many times at patient advisory boards and conferences. He was invariably upbeat and truly a dynamo, demanding that the patient voice be heard loud and clear. From time to time, Michael and I corresponded. He was always, always so positive even though he was living with serious health complications.
Over the years I have had the privilege of meeting and collaborating with many patient-advocates. No one would choose to have a serious diagnosis; but when it happens, some dedicate themselves to helping others. Michael was a shining example of speaking out so that patients truly come first — and when others don’t listen, of moving around them to get things done. To me, his death was a shock. He was so inspiring, and Esther and I will miss him.
We send our condolences to his family. As members of the patient advocate community, we’ll fight on with Michael smiling, as I always remember him, and urging us to do more.
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