September 27, 2023

Get to know Danielle Haakinson, M.D.

Learn more about our new faculty

Dr. Danielle Haakinson
Danielle Haakinson, M.D.

Danielle Haakinson, M.D., joins the Section of Transplant Surgery following transplant surgery fellowship at Mayo Clinic Arizona, where she also completed her general surgery residency. She attended the University of Colorado for medical school.

Dr. Haakinson is a member of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons and the American Society of Transplantation, and has been appointed to multiple committees for both groups. She is also a fellow in the American College of Surgeons and a member of the Association for Academic Surgery.

Her research interests center on organ assessment and delivery of therapeutics on normothermic machine perfusion, optimizing clinical care of diabetic and obese transplant patients and equity in access to transplantation.

Clinically, she specializes in kidney, liver and pancreas transplantation in adults and children, hepatobiliary surgery, donor and native nephrectomy, revisional surgery in transplant patients and robotic surgery.

Get to know more about Dr. Haakinson.

Q. Why Michigan Medicine? Tell us what excites you about being a part of the team.

A. I’m excited to have been recruited to join the transplant team at University of Michigan because of the rich history at this institution honoring the tripartite mission of excellence in clinical care, education and research. In every domain there is tremendous opportunity for my ongoing growth and development. In particular I am looking forward to future collaborations and research productivity with the Bartlett Lab and the opportunity to start a robotic transplant program.  Building on the success of the kidney program and interacting with trainees who have a passion for transplant will be incredibly rewarding.

Q. Why surgery? Tell us what led you down this path.

A. Although I am only the second college graduate in my large extended family (my mom being the first having gone back to college when I was in grade school) I began saying I would be a surgeon from a very young age. I always had a love of science and anatomy, with a strong focus on service within my family, and so a career in medicine and surgery aligned well with that.  After college I worked in the research lab and then ran clinical trials for the head of Endocrinology at the University of Colorado, and through that experience had the opportunity to scrub into surgeries implanting an insulin pump as part of a trial. This research, clinical and surgical experience solidified my desire to become a surgeon.

Q: What drew you to your specialty>

A. I had been planning to go into burn and trauma surgery up until the point I rotated on transplant for the first time in my PGY4 year of residency.  I enjoyed high stakes, high acuity, and emergency surgery, as well as complex multidisciplinary and ICU level care of patients.  In those three months on transplant, I fell in love with the patients, the team and surgeries that became miracles for families and there was no turning back from that point on. The opportunity for innovation and growth within my practice continues to be tremendously rewarding.

Q: Favorite procedure and why?

A. My favorite procedure is the robotic kidney transplant because it’s a technically challenging case that few people around the country are trained to do, and for obese patients, converts a procedure with wound complication rates of 30-50% down to less than 2%.  It’s very rewarding to have trained to have proficiency on such a groundbreaking technique that benefits patients.

Q. Tell us more about your research focus.

A. My research focus centers around the assessment and repair of marginal deceased donor grafts for transplantation utilizing normothermic machine perfusion. Opportunities to minimize organ discard and improve access to patients on the waitlist show tremendous promise and is an active area of growth in the transplant community.  Additionally, I enjoy engaging in quality improvement and equitable access to the waitlist projects for diabetic and obese patients, as well as those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged.

Q. What’s a little-known fact about you?

A. I grew up working for my family’s construction company and have journeyman status in painting, wallcovering and drywall installation and finishing.

Q: What’s your secret talent?

A: Many people know I previously was the lead singer and bass player in a rock band that put out studio albums and had a music video (Jupiter’s Thigh), but I also grew up doing theater and dance, touring Europe two summers with a competitive national clogging and folk dance team representing the US.

Q: What’s your favorite way to spend time outside of the hospital or lab?

A. I love spending time with my two kids Zain (16) and Zella (11) and helping my husband who is a chef with his catering business Duck Fat & Bacon-either as a taste tester or sous chef!  Otherwise, we enjoy spending time outdoors, being active, traveling and reading.