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In between taking tests, law student Federico Ng takes temperatures. Ng, a second-year student at St. Mary’s University School of Law, is a practicing physician in San Antonio, Texas. In addition, he’s an inventor who’s developed a “smart card” to hold patient records. He’s getting his J.D. as a precursor to a political career. “I want to run for public office because I think my forte is solving problems to help people,” he says. “As a doctor, I can help up to 50 people a day. I’d like to get into federal politics, where I can help millions.” Ng, 35, who specializes in internal medicine and pediatrics, checks on his hospitalized patients early in the morning, then goes to classes at St. Mary’s. By afternoon, he’s in his medical office, ready to begin a seven-hour day. In the evening, he studies and reads before hitting the sack for eight hours of sleep. He also finds time to work on his credit-card-sized invention called the “The Vivos Card,” a plastic card outfitted with a microchip that can hold such pertinent data as medical records, family history and living wills. The card is being tested at Methodist Children’s Hospital of South Texas in San Antonio, he says. As if Ng’s life isn’t busy enough, he also, unfortunately, has had to spend some of his valuable time being a patient. In October 1999, he was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension, an incurable illness that causes high blood pressure in the lungs. He was diagnosed shortly after starting law school, and was told that he had only a few months to live. The following January, he fell into a coma. But Ng defied the odds. He came out of the coma and resumed classes eight days later. This month, he’s undergoing a bone marrow transplant to reduce the impact of the disease. Ng acknowledges that his illness puts some limitations on him — he can’t jog for more than half a mile — but he continues to work and study. “A lot of people would say I’m a pretty normal guy,” he says. Ng, a San Antonio native, always knew he wanted to be a doctor. “I love medicine,” he says. “That was a decision that I didn’t have to make; I just always knew. I always felt like I was born to do that.” He attended the University of Texas at San Antonio for a few years, then switched to the Austin campus, where he got a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy in 1989. Four years later, he received his medical degree from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. He did a residency at the University of Texas Medical Center at Houston before returning to San Antonio to practice medicine. While in medical school, Ng came up with the idea for the Vivos Card and set up InterVivos Inc. (Latin for “living persons”) to develop and market it. Richard Ruble, an associate with Jackson Walker in San Antonio, is handling the patent, trademark and copyright work for him. Ng hopes that the pilot program will be brief and that he’ll be able to start marketing the card soon. He says the information on the card is encrypted, and that the software and hardware required to read the card are sold only to medical organizations. In addition to its potential to help patients, the venture’s success also might benefit Ng: He is using student loans to pay for law school. For now, however, Ng is focusing his seemingly endless energy on mastering public administration and constitutional law. These areas of the law will give him a solid launching pad for politics, he believes. “I just want to understand the laws before I try to change them,” he says.

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