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Doctor Who Trained In Chicago Among Nepal Earthquake Victims

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A doctor and former Malcolm X College student was among a group of climbers killed on Mt. Everest when a massive earthquake in Nepal triggered an avalanche on Saturday.

Marisa Eve Girawong was working as a base camp physician assistant for Madison Mountaineering's expedition on Mt. Everest. Before leaving for Nepal last year to pursue her career as a physician assistant, she graduated from Malcolm X College in 2012, and completed her medical training at John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County.

B. Jang Mi Johnson, a senior physician assistant at the Illinois Dermatology Institute, was one of Girawong's teachers in the Stroger Hospital-Malcolm X College physician assistant program.

"In a way, I feel like I've lost one of my children," Johnson said.

She said Girawong, 28, wasn't only an exceptional student, but an exceptional human being. Johnson didn't want Girawong to be one of the earthquake's anonymous victims.

"It's hard when someone that amazing is gone," Johnson said.

Helping the survivors is now a top priority for Chicago area orthopedic surgeon Victoria Brander.

"They're entirely overwhelmed," Brander said.

She and a colleague have worked with doctors in Nepal since bringing their Operation Walk Chicago project to that country five years ago. Nepal Orthopaedic Hospital survived the earthquake. A doctor there sent Johnson a photo of dozens of victims being treated outside the hospital in Katmandu; partly because there is no room inside, and partly because many are terrified to remain under a roof should another aftershock hit.

"People are more than willing to help. It's just coordinating that help in a way that is the most effective way for the country," Brander said.

Brander said they are now raising money for the victims, but once they are able, Operation Walk Chicago will send numerous teams to Nepal to help the thousands of people left disabled by the quake.

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