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St. Jude pediatric infectious disease specialist began medical journey in Argentina

Hispanic Heritage Month
Published: Sep. 17, 2021 at 8:11 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Action News 5 has partnered with La Prensa Latina to highlight some outstanding individuals in the Hispanic community in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, which kicked off September 15th.

In our first story, Action News 5′s Briseida Holguin introduces us to a pediatric infectious disease specialist from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Around the world, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is known for treating pediatric cancer and other life-threatening diseases, and it’s no wonder the best end up working for them.

Diego Hijano has been part of the St. Jude team since 2014 and has earned the title of pediatric infectious disease specialist.

Hijano’s journey began at the age of 18 in Argentina.

“I was born in a small city in the Atlantic coast of Argentina. It’s called Necochea,” Hijano said.

He lived in the beach city with his two parents, an older brother, and a younger sister until the end of high school.

Despite his father being a lawyer and both of his siblings also following that path, a conversation with his mother sparked his interest in medicine. Hijano went to medical school and completed his pediatric residency in La Plata near Buenos Aires.

During his time there, he started a family, and in 2011 he got an amazing opportunity at a prestigious university.

“As I was finishing pediatric residency is when we had an opportunity to come to the U.S. So, in 2011 we moved to Nashville, Tennessee to Vanderbilt University,” Hijano said.

After three years in Nashville, an opportunity presented itself at St. Jude.

“I applied for a fellowship in infectious diseases because I knew I wanted to do that, and as an immigrant at the time, I didn’t have many options of places,” Hijano said.

After the fellowship, Hijano became part of the infectious diseases department.

“I work as an infectious disease specialist and I focus mainly on patients undergoing the bone marrow transplants,” Hijano said.

With the majority of his time spent with patients and their families throughout the entire transplant process, Hijano says there’s a special connection when patients are also Hispanic.

“They are relieved when they actually see a physician that not only speaks their language but to share some of the values and culture. It’s just very, very important,” Hijano said.

Hijano says since the pandemic began, he’s taken on additional roles due to COVID-19. He’s the deputy medical director for reputational health.

He’s helped provide resources for those infected with the virus and helped mitigate the spread among workers on the St. Jude campus.

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