Meet the physicians at Pediatric Alliance!



Brian W. Donnelly, M.D., I.B.C.L.C. – Pediatric Alliance —  North Hills Division (20 years)


Birthplace:  Jackson Heights, New York

Education:  Whippany Park High School (NJ)/ University of Notre Dame (IN)/ St. George’s University School of Medicine (Grenada, West Indies)/ State University of New York – Upstate Medical Center (Syracuse, NY)

Training:  SUNY Health Sciences Center (Syracuse, NY)

Hospital Affiliations/Teaching:  Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh/ Magee-Women’s Hospital/ UPMC Mercy.

Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics – University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Professional Interests:  Preventive medicine in general and promoting breastfeeding specifically.  I serve as President of the Allegheny County Health Department’s Breastfeeding Coalition.  Our goal is to increase breastfeeding rates through education of  both the public and health care providers and through support of the breastfeeding dyad.

My Inspiration:  When I started medical school, I was planning on being a surgeon of one kind or another.  As I went through the pediatric rotation, day after day it was the children I encountered who inspired me to go home and rethink my life’s direction.

My Hero:  I have many.  Almost a new one every day.

My wife, most days;  any combination of my kids, depending on what great thing they have accomplished. (They are ages 24, 22, 20, 17, 14, 11, and 8.); a parent who does something extraordinary for her/his child; an employee who bends over backward (figuratively, of course) for a patient; that Malala girl who was shot in Pakistan (Malala Yousafzai).

In general, it could be anyone whom I catch doing small things with great love or virtue.

School Memories or Stories:  In one of my medical school admission interviews, I was told:  “You’ll never be a doctor.  You’re too nice.”  Absolutely the worst advice I’ve ever received!

Patients Have Taught Me:  Many different things. Patience. Fortitude. Tenacity. Adaptability. Humility.  Some patients face overwhelming adversity with such grace.  They can make me ashamed to complain about anything.

Funniest Thing A Patient Has Said:  I entered the room where a 6 year old boy was going to be evaluated for his first ever sore throat.

His throat had just been swabbed (to be tested for strep) and he was crying.

“What’s wrong, Michael? Does something hurt?”

“Yes,” he replied.  “My feelings.”

The most common recurring joke I hear is when I offer a child the option of which arm he or she would like to receive a vaccine.

Left or Right is what I expect to hear.

Sometimes I hear: “Yours!”

What Parents Can Do To Improve Their Child’s Health:  Parents should do their best to give children what they need to thrive, including the chance to make mistakes, but to NOT give them everything they want.

Favorite Patient Age:  I really enjoy seeing newborn babies in the hospital, and it is gratifying to relate to college-age patients about the “real” world.  But my favorite age range would be 4 through 6 years old.  Before the TV show existed, they were called the “Wonder Years.”  Their imagination runs wild, and the art of conversation is just opening up to them. They are very open to learning, and they ask some great questions.  (And, yes, I consider “why?” a great question!) Often they share simple, but profound insights. They are such fun to interact with!

Hobbies:  Writing; playing/coaching hockey.

When my son began playing developmental hockey 5 years ago, his coach asked if any parents could help him out.  I volunteered, since I knew I was able to skate a little bit.  Once the coach saw I could stay vertical for the whole practice, he asked if I was interested in playing adult league hockey.  He was looking for a few good men … or, at least, some warm bodies balanced, however tentatively, on steel blades.  It didn’t take long for me to say yes!  After all, I had played pond hockey before.  OK – thirty years before.

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So I signed on before he changed his mind and after I vowed to my wife that I wouldn’t get hurt!  And what began as a fantasy league – type experiment has become a way for me to get strenuous exercise on a regular basis.  In an amazingly fun way!   

Dogs or Cats:  Yes!

Let me explain:  I grew up with dogs, and have always loved them.  They are very lovable creatures.  I never liked cats — always sneaking around, and being generally aloof.  Besides, I discovered that I was very allergic to them.  But, a few years ago, the kids talked me into letting them have an outdoor cat.  Slowly, gradually, I have learned to appreciate the whole feline thing.  Even to the point of … yes, loving them.

Just don’t let my dog know!

(And, please … pass me the tissue box!)

PC or Mac:  I use a PC laptop AND I really dig my iPhone!

Playing On My iPod:  Train … U2 …  The Fray … Johnny Cash … Talking Heads … The Chieftains … Coldplay … Bob Seger …

I like that shuffle feature!

Favorite Vacation Spot:  Hmmm …. An island, probably.

We visited Kiawah Island (SC) this year, and really enjoyed it.  But we also had a grand time on Jekyll Island (GA).  I have fond memories of Grenada and Barbados.  But we loved the Grand Canyon vacation, too.  Almost melted in Yuma, AZ!

Favorite Food:  Greek yogurt.  Black cherry is the best.  What a rich, thick treat!  It’s also such a good source of protein and calcium.

Always In The Fridge:  1% milk.  It goes fast!  We usually buy 3 or 4 gallons at a time.

What People Don’t Know:  I was a sickly child.  Many episodes of pneumonia and strep throat.  I was a short, fat, very near-sighted, painfully shy, runny-nosed mess!  Luckily, I’m a little taller now, but still only in the 25th percentile!