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California teen's medical research leads to one-of-a-kind clinical trial in Wisconsin

Posted at 8:03 PM, Jul 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-24 21:03:27-04

A California teen's medical studies are now part of Wisconsin's Aurora St. Luke's neurosurgery clinical trials.

Sixteen-year-old Kailah Cathey celebrates her birthday by working alongside neurosurgeon Dr. Robert Rovin. 

Cathey says she was studying the medical usage of lavender aromatherapy in relation to the calming and healing effects on patients. Her family has close ties with Dr. Rovin's family. When Kailah's brother shared her findings with Rovin's son, two years of further study and expansion by the doctor turned out to be fruitful. 

"It just clicked. I said well, instead of just using this pre-op or post-op. Let's do this during surgery and that has never been done before," said Rovin. 

The study will administer aromatherapy to awake patients during surgery through a small inhaler. Dr. Rovin says the study currently has more than 20 participants and the hospital fully supports this trial. After numerous surgeries and data collection, Kailah will be a co-author on the published work.

Her mother Jacquelyn Cathey says of her six children, the youngest Kailah, has a drive and big dreams that have truly blown her away 

"I had no clue what she was talking about when she was coming up with it. I was lost," said Jacquelyn. "I'm so proud of her, she's a smart girl."

The study's first surgery is Thursday. Kailah will get a chance to meet the patient and stand in the operating room during surgery.

Originally, she says she did her research to learn more on how to be a Pediatric Cardiovascular Surgeon. But with her first medical study in neurology, She's now open to becoming a neurosurgeon.