Skip Navigation
request an appointment my chart notification lp musc-logo-white-01 facebook twitter youtube blog find a provider circle arrow
MUSC mobile menu

Beyond the White Coat

Profiles of our Women's Health Providers
Keyword: obstetrics

Family, Football, and Fishing

cristian thomae and children

On any given weekend, one might find Cristian Thomae and his youngest of four sons, traveling through the local rivers, jetties or backwater creeks of Charleston looking for Redfish, Flounder or Black Drum. These are fish which thrive in the many oyster bars and shallow flats in and around the Low country and provide great sport for the average or expert fisherman. If not fishing, he and his boys will kicking the soccer ball or watching matches on TV. A former soccer player, himself, and avid fan, he talks about his love of soccer and his favorite soccer teams, of which he has severalBoca Juniors of Argentina, Barcelona from La Liga and Manchester City of England. Why soccer you might ask in a state like South Carolina where the fans of Clemson and USC stand firm in their loyalties to football, and in their rivalries between each other and othersThe answer is quite simple. Cristian Thomae, OB-GYN at MUSC was raised on soccer, or as his native country refers to it-football.  “I actually played soccer myself until just 5 years ago,” he professed, “and my 9 and 11 year old boys play now.  

Cristian was born in Argentina and lived there until the age of twelve, when his father, an electrical engineer moved his family to Rochester, NY., where the manufacturing industry was booming and innovation was kingThink Kodak, Xerox, General Dynamics, and the Rochester Institute of Technology. Describing the experience of moving to the United States, little trace of his native language is apparent today. “I knew very little English, and when we moved from the beautiful mountains of Argentina to the cold and snowy winters of Rochester, I was in culture shock. Eventually we moved to northern Virginia and this is where my exposure to medicine began,” Dr. Thomae adds.  

Dr. Thomae attended the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine and then went on to complete his residency at the Portsmouth Naval Hospital in Portsmouth, VA. He also spent time at Parris Island in BeaufortCharleston Naval Hospital where he taught residents from and the Medical University of South Carolina. The navy is where his initial relationship with another MUSC OB-GYN began, but also where his relationship with the Low country was interrupted for a time—Hurricane Hugo.   

After the devastating storm in 1989, Dr. Thomae and his family relocated to Augusta, Georgia. In Augusta, he was in private practice for the next twenty-four years as an OB-GYN. In 2008, long after laparoscopic procedures were introduced to the world of surgery, he experienced a desire to learn about the DaVinci robot. What drew him into the deep dive of learning about the DaVinci was his desire to understand the benefits of robotic surgery to his patients, particularly those women who required a hysterectomy or other complicated surgery for problems such as severe endometriosis or infertility. What he found in investigating, training and becoming an expert in using the robot was that it was “to find the simplest resolution to a complex surgical problems, and would be a solution that offered the least interference in a woman’s daily life. This translated to less pain, less blood loss, shorter hospital stays and a shorter recovery time,” Thomae added. 

“I have probably delivered close to 5, 000 babies in my life, and I decided that I was ready for a different challenge, and for me that was dedicating the remainder of my career to women of all ages, who needed this type of surgical option and to share this knowledge with our physicians-in-training. That’s when I decided to reach out to MUSC, an organization which would be able to provide the best of both worlds—doing and teaching.”   

Dr. Thomae exhibits an effervescent smile and suddenly switches the topic to fishing. “Maneuvering the DaVinci, allows great flexibility of the wrists, similar to what you have to do when fishing.” He pauses briefly then laughs, “But I’m not very good at fishing. I study the fishing blogs to learn the tides, and aside from soccer, it’s one of my favorite things to do with my boys. Our fishing expeditions only last for a while. We catch few fish, they get bored and we end up tubing.”   

Dr. Thomae continues to talk about his family, their hobbies and how he likes to spend his leisure time. He is a man of many interests and exhibits much exuberance about life and what it has to offer. “My father is 90 years oldHe used to read calculus books for fun,” he remarks proudly. “I have six children, five grandchildren and one on the way. My wife is an amazing professional photographer, whose family is also here. I have my work, I have my family…I have soccer. Speaking of which, I think Argentina is playing today,” he adds smiling. “I will definitely be watching that game with my boys.”  

For more information about Cristian Thomae, M.D., OB-GYN at the Medical University of South Carolina visit www.muschealth.org/womenshealth  or call 843-792-5300.

Meet Dr. Steven Swift
Dr. Steven Swift and wife in Italy
Dr. Swift and wife Alisa in Sienna, Italy. 

One might think of Leonardo DaVinci as the quintessential renaissance man – master of art, engineer, and anatomy expert –the list goes on and on. But we don’t have to travel back in time or all the way to Italy to find our DaVinci-like renaissance man at the  Medical University of South Carolina. To meet that person,  just travel to the sixth floor of the clinical sciences building at MUSC and there you will discover professor, surgeon, oenophile, sports enthusiast, father, husband, chef, carpenter – our very own renaissance man, Steven Swift, M.D., board certified in obstetrics and gynecology, and in female pelvic medicine & reconstructive surgery, Dr. Swift speaks very proudly, yet humbly of his many interests and talents.

“I love creating and I think that my passion for cooking, woodworking, and being a surgeon are interestingly similar when you think about creativity,” he says. “There’s a beginning, a middle, and an end in any project-and in each of these situations I use creativity to adapt to each individual project. Creativity comes into play when I think about the result I am trying to achieve. Most importantly, when treating my patients, I adapt the therapy or the treatment to what my patients want, expect, or need to make their lives better. It’s truly about quality of life and because each patient is different, I have to treat each situation differently. This is where creativity in medicine comes into play.”

Laughing, he continues. “That’s why I started building furniture. I had to creatively come up with a place to keep our clothes.” When asked to explain, he continued on to describe the experience that prompted that first piece of  woodworking. “I was a second year medical student with a wife, little money, living in a small apartment in an old house with no closets. We couldn’t afford to buy an armoire, so I decided to build one.” Laughing again he added, “We still have that armoire. It’s in our garage and we keep our sporting equipment in it.”

When not treating patients or building his next piece of furniture, Steven loves to travel to different regions throughout the world that offer great cuisine, great wine and great vistas. Italy floated to the top as one of his favorite places as he described his take on Italian wines and food. “When I think of Italian food I think of pasta, loud and boisterous crowds, and deep, rich wines.” When asked about his favorite Italian restaurants in Charleston he quickly listed Al-di-la in West Ashley, Pane E Vino in downtown, and La Pizzeria in Mt. Pleasant. “The restaurant doesn’t have to be fancy, it just has to be good.” An avid fan of Italy, he and his entire family plan to visit the medieval village of Soave in Northern Italy where they grow the very special Gargenega grapes for a particular style of white wine. He looks forward to the trip and to spending time with his wife, three adult children and their significant others.

Family for Steven includes his wife of thirty-three years, two sons, and a daughter. He proudly points out each of them positioned on top of the desk he built himself, the bookshelves and the walls. The myriad pictures of his family from across the globe brighten his office as does the smile on his face when he speaks of each of them with pride.   

The conversation continues and eventually lands on the topic of his work and his patients. “While I love cooking and traveling and building things, I am really most satisfied when a patient says ‘thank you’ for fixing me,” Steven states with satisfaction. “While much of what I do is not life-threatening, I know that I can improve the quality of life for the women who put their trust in me,” he continues. “It’s my job to listen to each and every woman who comes to me. And, in that process, I want them to know how together we will overcome their particular issue.” When asked what his patients might say about him, he laughs and says, “They almost always ask me where my bowtie is when I see them just before surgery. I always wear a bowtie when I see my patients in the office, but you just can’t wear a bowtie with surgical scrubs,” he laughs. 

A renaissance man in a bowtie? Why not? It is Charleston, South Carolina after all.

For more information about Dr. Swift or to make an appointment call 843-792-5300 or visit Women's Health at MUSC.

“Head-to-Head with Bobby Flay”

The popularity of cooking shows in recent years has spurred men and women alike to create, design and experiment with many different food groups, flavors, and ethnic cuisines. This has never been more evident than in Charleston, SC where the city thrives on its reputation as a “foodie haven.” Yet, it is not along upper and lower King Street where numerous eateries exist, that a most famous chef of Charleston practices her trade. Ashlyn Savage, an OB-GYN extraordinaire, mother, wife and semi-celebrity chef practices her culinary trade in a quiet, family-friendly neighborhood at the end of a cul-de-sac on the Ashley River. This is where the “Queen of Dip” lives.

Dr. Savage and family
Ashlyn Savage and her family on vacation.

“I love to cook,” states Ashlyn Savage, an OB-GYN at MUSC Health who is more often recognized as a popular, and highly respected physician of women, rather than a “top chef” of local fame. “If I do anything for myself, it is cooking. I love to experiment with recipes and ethnic foods, and gather with other friends and families in our close-knit neighborhood where roving, impromptu parties are frequent.” 

“We have nomadic-like parties in the neighborhood moving from house to house on any given night. We also hold contests, with a theme of course, to see who can bring on the best and compete to win a prize or a new title. As part of the contest, you might have to cook a dish that includes a tomato, or collards, or any other random ingredient,” she goes on to explain. “We’ve had a Rib King, a Collards Queen, and I am the Dip Queen,” she laughs. “I won with an artichoke dip, but my best is my 7-layer Mexican dip.”

While cooking and spending time with family and friends is important, most of her days are filled with the responsibility of taking care of women of the low country. Together with her husband, also a physician, the two left the sun-filled days of Charleston for four years of cold and snow in Pittsburgh to complete their residencies. Despite the cold, Pittsburgh proved to be “an easy town to live in,” and they came away with fond memories of the “City of Bridges.”

After moving back to Charleston, another city of bridges, Ashlyn continued her medical career as one of the first female, general OB-GYN’s on staff at MUSC. While she considers herself an “academic generalist” who is involved in clinical care, teaching and research, she describes herself as “more of a teacher than a researcher.” 

“My involvement with learners is that it helps keep me current and is a reminder of how I ended up where I am today.” Ashlyn’s sense of pride in her work at MUSC Health is clearly evident in her voice as she shares her experiences about involvement with women and their families.

“My life is centered on my family, as well as my patients’ families. During a pregnancy, I get to know the whole family, because everyone is involved and by the end of the pregnancy I frequently have met everyone—grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles. It’s not always just the expectant parents who come to hear the heartbeat for the first time—it’s the family. Having a baby is a major life moment, and I cherish that hugely rewarding part of being the OB-GYN for the mom and her entire family.”

Work aside, Ashlyn is also a mother of two boys, aged eight and nine, who keep her busy with the fantasies and realities of football, hockey and baseball. Still huge fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Penguins and Pirates, and other sports teams, the family often chooses to celebrate life events with tickets to sporting events rather than gifts. “We travel instead of buying a thing,” she explains. “Something the entire family can enjoy.” Laughing quietly, she adds, “We still have yet to make it to a Pittsburgh Penguins’ game, but it’s on the list.”

When looking around Ashlyn’s office at photos of her family, posters and art from the special places the family has traveled, and other mementos, you get a sense of a woman who is comfortable, confident and content. She likes being an OB-GYN generalist, she likes being a teacher, she likes being a mom and wife, and she likes being a chef—and her patients more than just “like her” in return. When you hear the admiration and praise from patients, colleagues and her family, we know that with this kind of resume and her knack for creating those “magic moments” for all families, Ashlyn Savage can take on Bobby Flay any day!

Learn more about Women's Health at MUSC Health.

Image of Dr. Meglin at Machu PichuThe game “Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?” began as an educational resource for teaching children about geography in the early 90s, but Michelle Meglin, OB-GYN created her own version of learning about geography by traveling throughout the world with her favorite traveling companions. Most recently, she could have been found floating in a hot air balloon across the Napa Valley in northern California with her gang of nomads who also relish the thrill of adventure in different locales. Having caught the travel bug early in life, Michelle has traversed our country from east to west, and back again, never content to visit the same place or stay in one location too long. “I have spent a lot of time abroad, but now it’s time to conquer all of the states at home,” she reports with a patriotic air in her matter of fact statement.  

“I love to travel,” she adds. “And, I do so quite regularly. “And,” she adds this time with emphasis and a playful grin on her face, “I don’t always know where I am going.” While that sounds somewhat mysterious, the truth is that within her group of wandering friends, each takes a turn in planning their annual Memorial Day weekend outing. “It’s great to let someone else plan out all the details, be surprised at the choice, and enjoy yourself all at the same time.” But, in spite of her international expeditions and the cross-country ventures, her favorite journey to date is the one that landed her in Charleston, SC.  

“From an early age, I knew I wanted to go into medicine,” begins Dr. Meglin, who was raised in Wilmington, North Carolina with her parents and three siblings. “My family had a tremendous impact on my decision to go into healthcare, and it seemed like a natural path for me.” Unfortunately, the main impetus toward a career in medicine was the result of a personal tragedy that befell her family, hitting her square in the face with mortality. Her brother’s illness and subsequent death at age fifteen, inspired her to make this decision – medicine and taking care of others became her path to follow in life and from that fated choice, she did not waver.

Dr. Meglin attended undergraduate school at Davidson College in North Carolina, followed by medical school at Wake Forest. “Once I chose medicine, I always thought I would go into pediatrics,” explains Dr. Meglin, “But was drawn to women’s care at an early junction in my medical training, and I never looked back.” After graduating from medical school, she went to Virginia Commonwealth University, where she completed her residency in OB-GYN. During this time, her mentor suggested she look at MUSC and Charleston as a place to continue her career. The connection was made and as they say – the rest is history.

Dr. Meglin’s spirit and energy for her patients is revealed daily and it is easy to see that why her true passion in life is women’s health. “I am drawn to the variety of care I see in women’s and at MUSC, the relationships I form and the bonds I create as I help my patients through some major milestones of their lives.” This credo and her ability to connect with her patients is what have made Dr. Meglin so successful early on in her career.

Dr. Meglin has been with MUSC for two years and feels at home in this academic setting at MUSC. She is finding her niche in adolescent medicine, family planning counseling and management, and pregnancy. She also finds great fulfillment in the ability to teach. “My biggest joy is not only seeing patients, but to give back to the next generation of OB-GYN providers. No two days of my job are the same and it is what I love most about my career – the balance, the variety, and of course, the amazing women I get to meet!”

The road to medicine has been a greatest excursion for Dr. Meglin. The journey has not always been perfect, and those who know her well, understand that she keeps that very personal reason for this noble choice in careers, close to her heart, and always on her mind. And, at the end of the day when the sun sets on the beaches of California, or the moon rises over Machu Picchu in Peru, or the heather blooms in the moorlands of Scotland, her patients always know that her humble compassion for women are what make this doctor so unique and special to MUSC Women’s Health.

For more information on Dr. Meglin or to schedule an appointment, call 843-876-3292.