“When I was in Laredo, I studied cello when I was in undergrad. My ultimate goal with the cello I guess “professionally” was to play cello with the Laredo Philharmonic Orchestra, which I did in April of my senior year. It was a huge deal for me. Since I was really young I always wanted to play with them — [it was] definitely my ultimate goal in music. So, I finally made it. Like, I sat as last chair … the guy in front of me … I mean I wasn’t even half as good as him! But, I was just so happy to be there. That concert was probably the best one in particular that I could have played in. Because the repertoire for that concert, for one, was like, incredible. I just have never played a concert with such quality repertoire. Phenomenal selection of music. But there was one piece in particular: it was composed by Linda Tutas Haugen. She was commissioned by the National Kidney Foundation to compose a piece in honor of organ donors. So, the piece was called Transformations of Darkness and Light and it’s just that every little thing about that composition meant something. Whether it was a rhythmic pattern or a certain theme in a movement. Every single aspect of that meant something. She had to do research for several years to be able to compose this.
Not only was it a phenomenal piece, but while she was composing it she worked at a university. And there were a series of accidents that year — I think 20 students lost their lives in car accidents. So they put up a tower, and for each student that passed away, they put up a huge metal wind chime. This was happening while she was composing the piece. So, as an honor to them at the end of the 4th movement, the whole piece concludes with just wind chimes ringing.“
“Oh my gosh. Wow.”
“It was a surreal experience. So I’m on stage performing the piece, but I also felt like I was in the audience. I was just watching it. They had the chimes in the audience and the people ringing the chimes were those who had received organ donations. It was a powerful thing.“
“You know, you really light up when you talk about music.”
Mando sucked me into our interview. Throughout the 20 minutes I had the privilege of conversing with him I found myself captivated with his passion for music. Truly, there was so much more I could have put into this piece on him, but it would have looked more like an essay because I became entrenched in his words. I did not feel the need to interject. It is so rare to find a medical student who is able to balance two passions — and it is clear that Mando is able to maintain a great routine co-mingling between his loves, Medicine and Art. When I asked which subject he loves more, he responded that he needed both. The rigor of one’s studies often can drive one to obsession. Creating & spreading art is a fantastic outlet for a release of the pent up stress that so often accumulates when one is faced with the task of learning every part of the human body. Mando recognizes this, and I think we can all read his story and apply it to our own coping mechanisms.
Mando Elizondo grew up in Laredo, Texas. He attended Texas A&M International University in Laredo, Texas where he was awarded a BS in biology and a minor in music studies. Mando currently attends medical school at the University of Texas Medical Branch. He is a second-year medical student. Mando is interested in becoming a plastic surgeon.
Humans of Medicine explores the character, struggles and humanity of the people who have devoted their lives to medicine, a compilation of stories from all practitioners of the healing arts.