UNAC/UHCP Physician Assistant Helps Patients Achieve Their Goals

April 2009

Cyril Thomas knows a hero when he sees one and Ryan Gonzalez is definitely it.

Thomas, a physician assistant in the Emergency Department at Kaiser Permanente San Diego Medical Center , met Ryan years ago when he was being treated for harlequin ichthyosis, a rare skin disorder that's usually fatal at birth. Ryan is the oldest living child in the world with this disorder.

Of course, he'd much rather be known as a tough triathlete.

Thomas helps Ryan achieve his athletic goals by volunteering for the Challenged Athletes Foundation, an organization which helps people with physical disabilities compete in the sports they love.

"Ryan is an inspiration to all of us and the reason I do this work," Thomas said.

The physician assistant's desire to help others also takes him to many third world countries where he volunteers for medical missions to help repair children with cleft palates and facial deformities.

"I believe we all have a purpose in life, and this is mine," said Thomas, who learned the importance of volunteering from his parents, especially his father who was killed while on a humanitarian relief mission when Cyril was only two years old.

Thomas continues in his father's footsteps in spite of the perils he may encounter in remote and dangerous parts of the world.

"Cyril is an absolutely selfless man," said Leah Frank, a service assistant in San Diego's Emergency Department. "He always puts himself out there for others and never asks for anything in return."

Courtesy of the Kaiser Permanente Everyday Heroes Program