Volunteer Profile: Dave Toffey


Dave’s life started with a surprise diagnosis of a heart condition that is now usually detected before birth. Within a few months, he’d had several surgeries to correct the transposition of the great arteries.

He’s now in medical school at OHSU and will join the Merry Heart team as a cabin counselor. His experience as a heart patient who’s entered the medical field himself adds a layer of understanding and knowledge to the crew. 

Like many young heart patients, Dave didn’t know any other children with a heart condition growing up. He shared his experiences and questions with his parents, but not with his friends or siblings. He’s excited to be on both ends of the dialogue with the campers.

“I hope that being able to share my experiences, both as a patient and also as a young adult who has been fairly active and successful in pursuing an education and a career, will be meaningful to these kids. I am as much looking forward to being helped by them myself as I am to helping them in any way I can,” Dave says.

Dave answers a few more questions below

What do you do everyday for work, school and play?

I just started my second year of medical school at OHSU so that covers most of my working and schooling. Inspired by my parents and siblings as well as some incredible athletes in my class at OHSU, I’ve recently started running which I enjoy, but sometimes feels like more work than play.

What are a few of your favorite things?

I grew up loving to play and watch baseball, although my home team, the Philadelphia Phillies, have been pretty miserable lately. I haven’t played on a team since I was a teenager but I still love to play catch and try to hit a baseball as far as I can. I’ve also played the violin since I was very young and enjoy playing, listening to, and watching classical music. 

What's the coolest thing you've ever done?

I was fortunate enough to land a summer internship in college that paired me with the Tennessee Donor Services office in Knoxville, TN. I spent the summer driving around with the organ transplant coordinators on organ recovery cases, driving for hours to work on a case and getting to scrub in to help the surgeons on in a couple instances. I’ve done plenty of interesting medically-related things in my time at OHSU, but this internship in Tennessee was my first serious exposure to some of the wildly incredible things that healthcare workers do on a daily basis. 

Are you an outdoorsy person? What do you like the most about being in the woods in Oregon?

I am more of a budding wannabe outdoorsy person. In the last few months I’ve had more opportunities to get out and do a little camping and hiking. I grew up in Philadelphia, PA and envy the Oregon natives who have grown up among so much beautiful scenery. In the time that I have spent in the woods here in Oregon, what I like most is the feeling of looking out at the mountains miles away, surrounded by a forest that comes right up to your feet. I enjoy the feeling of being among something so expansive while simultaneously experiencing the comfort and coziness of the tall sturdy trees that line the hiking trails and camp sites.