Dr. Amaryllis Maria Elpida Hays: Annelle M. Ahmed, M.D., Women's Health Care Award

While watching doctors work to help African children in a documentary on health care, Dr. Amaryllis Maria Elpida Hays was hooked. She decided she wanted to be a doctor. When she started her rotation in maternal-fetal medicine, not only did "the shoe fit, but it was comfortable," she said. "It just felt right."

Dr. Hays is the 2005 winner of the Annelle M. Ahmed, M.D., Women's Health Care Award, established in honor of the late Dr. Annelle M. Ahmed, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology. Dr. Ahmed died of breast cancer in 1996.

"This is an exceptionally moving award for our department to select each year," said Dr. Susan Cox, professor of obstetrics and gynecology. "Dr Annelle Ahmed did her residency here at UT Southwestern and then joined our faculty. She died of breast cancer at the age of 39 after a courageous six-year battle. She is remembered by all as a shining example of all the qualities important to the practice of medicine."           

Dr. Hays' experience during her third-year rotation in obstetrics and gynecology has convinced her to stay at UT Southwestern for her residency in OB-GYN. On the first day of her obstetrics rotation, she witnessed an emergency C-section, where the baby was delivered in less than 15 minutes -- an experience that has stayed with her.

"None of the other programs I interviewed for had the same heartfelt intensity as UT Southwestern's," she said. "I'm drawn toward becoming an academic clinician because of the interaction between departments and the faculty members always being in touch with changes in their fields. It's wonderful here."

Dr. Hays moved to Van, Texas, from Greece as a child. She attended Austin College in Sherman for its liberal arts education. While there, she took educational trips to places like Hawaii and Patagonia, where, with her professors, she saw biology and active ecosystems in a whole different light.

"I think being able to pay attention to both academics and social life is a great achievement," said Dr. Hays, who chose to stay in Texas near her family for her undergraduate and medical education. "A lot of things make up who are you and what you do, so family and friends are a big priority to me.

"Winning this award is a huge honor because I appreciate more being recognized for being a good doctor than a good student."

"Maria is an outstanding woman who is a wonderful clinician and great patient advocate," said Dr. Cox. "Like Dr. Ahmed, Maria is passionate about her work, respectful of her profession, and most importantly, kind and caring to her patients. She has many attributes of the late Dr. Annelle Ahmed."