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News
Neurologist wins national award


Photo
Dr. David Labiner
assoc. professor of neurology
By Elizabeth Thompson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday October 10, 2003

A UA neurologist has gained national recognition for his volunteer work with epilepsy patients.

Dr. David Labiner, an associate professor of neurology at the College of Medicine, has been awarded the 2003 Volunteer of the Year Award by the Epilepsy Foundation.

Labiner, who is also the medical director of the Arizona Comprehensive Epilepsy Program at University Medical Center, will be acknowledged for his extensive volunteer work tomorrow at the Epilepsy Foundation's 35th annual national conference in Orlando, Fla.

Selected for the award by volunteers who are nominated by epilepsy organizations from around the country, Labiner has held several different titles as a volunteer for the Epilepsy Foundation of Arizona, which is a branch of the national foundation.

For more than 10 years, Labiner's work with the foundation has included acting as board president, engaging in grassroots advocacy work and leading the foundation's professional advisory board.

"Dr. Labiner has been an excellent leader and supporter," said Ellie Cox, a program coordinator for the Epilepsy Foundation of Arizona. "He has always been there helping."

From 1999 to 2001, Labiner used his position as the board's president to advocate healthcare reforms.

Besides the work he does for the foundation, Labiner travels to various small towns around the state conducting UA epilepsy clinics. His trips include visits to the Navajo Reservation four times a year.

In the towns he travels to, Labiner has helped to set up several support groups and informative clinics for local doctors.

One of Labiner's patients from the reservation once volunteered him to be on a radio show the following morning without telling him, Cox said.

"We finally got a hold of him at 8 p.m. that night and had to tell him, ╬Guess what?'" Cox said.

Labiner said he was surprised that he won the award.

"This award came out of left field," Labiner said. "I'm truly touched that I've gotten this award. I never really expected this."

For seven years, Labiner has volunteered as camp doctor at Camp Candlelight, the only summer camp in the state for children with epilepsy. For one week, epileptic children participate in typical summer camp activities, including horseback riding and fishing.

Because epilepsy usually keeps children out of other summer camps due to safety and health concerns, Camp Candlelight allows epileptic children to have a true camp experience, Labiner said.

"It's a good way for these children to develop self-esteem," Labiner said, whose wife and daughter have both volunteered at the camp as well.

"I would encourage people to volunteer their time for any cause that would be worthwhile," he said.

Epilepsy, which is a neurological condition that makes people subject to seizures, affects more than two million Americans. Although epilepsy is incurable, it can be treated with surgery, medication, or a special diet.

The Epilepsy Foundation, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit organization, uses research, advocacy and education to promote the search for a cure.

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