Our beloved Susan passed away peacefully, surrounded by her family on July 27, 2019. Susan was a cherished wife, mother, grandmother, sister, daughter, doctor, friend, kidney donor, colleague, mentor, and humanitarian who embraced life with a passion that continues to inspire us all to be our best selves. She went by many names: Susan, Mom, Susie, Hou Yi Sheng, Doctora Susan, Mima, Meowmaw, Grandma, Dr. Hou. Her sense of adventure, witty humor, brilliant mind, compassion for others, and determination had a rich and diverse impact on the world.
Susan was born on July 29th, 1946 in Boston, Massachusetts to Daniels and Muriel Hamant. After a mischievous childhood of terrifying her grandmother with bugs and snakes, she went on to have a prestigious academic career. She completed high school at Dana Hall School in Wellesley, Massachusetts in 1964. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard with a BA in Far Eastern Languages in 1967. She earned an MA in East Asian Studies from Stanford in 1970. After being the only applicant to arrive at an interview during a wicked Worcester snowstorm– thanks to her brother Stoke, who drove her, she was accepted to medical school at the University of Massachusetts, where she obtained her MD in 1975. She then trained at Tufts-New England Medical Center to become a nephrologist in 1980. She went on to become a world-renowned expert in kidney disease and pregnancy.
While training she met her husband, the love of her life and partner in humanitarian endeavors, Mark Molitch. They moved to Chicago in 1984, where Susan worked as a nephrologist at Michael Reese Hospital and Rush University Medical Center, and ultimately as a transplant nephrologist at Loyola University Medical Center. She and Mark built a life with their three children in River Forest, IL.
Susan was proud to have uniquely experienced organ transplantation from all angles. Susan was inspired to specialize in nephrology by a friend suffering with kidney disease in medical school, Stan Cole, who went on to receive a kidney transplant from his brother (of course Susan offered her kidney, but Stan’s brother was a better match). Susan and others wrote a seminal article about altruistic, unrelated organ donation in 1986, published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Susan saved five-year old Indira’s life in 1996, by facilitating the first living-donor liver transplant in Bolivia. Susan’s mother Muriel donated organs when she passed away in 1999. In 2002, Susan achieved a lifelong dream in donating one of her kidneys to one of her patients who matched her very petite body size. In 2010, Susan became ill with pulmonary fibrosis, for which she received a lung transplant, exactly 12 years to the day from her kidney donation in 2014. Due to the toxicity caused by her transplant medications, Susan needed her own kidney transplant and received one from her son Ethan in 2017.
Susan was an avid world traveler, visiting 6 continents and immersing herself in cultures and communities around the world. She impressed many people by speaking English, Chinese, Spanish, Arabic, and Japanese. She was known for engaging strangers everywhere she went, learning their life histories while waiting in line and riding in taxis.
Her philanthropy began when she created the Patient Assistance Foundation to help a woman named Dadi Ding come from China to the United States to get treatment for her kidney disease. She went on to use the foundation to help patients in need to get unaffordable medications and care. The foundation later evolved into the Daniels Hamant Foundation, named after her father. In 2001, with her like-minded Bolivian colleague Douglas Villarroel and her husband Mark, Susan established the Centro Médico Humberto Parra, a free medical clinic in the rain forest outside of Santa Cruz, Bolivia, that has served thousands of Bolivians with their medical care.
Her parents, her older sister Anne and her younger brother Daniels, preceded her in death. She is survived by Mark Molitch; her three children and their spouses: Tamara and Brian, Ethan and Bati, Michael and Danielle; her seven grandchildren Maya, Evan, Isaac, Olivia, Asha, Niko, and Felix; and her two cats Gandalf and Gabriel.
All of her family as well as her extended Bolivian and Chinese family members are honored to have had her in our lives and she will be missed terribly. We will all strive to fill the chasm created by her loss.