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Neurologist connected with her patients

| Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Dr. Autumn Marie Klein, chief of women’s neurology at UPMC and an assistant professor of neurology, gynecology, obstretrics and reproductive sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, died Saturday, April 20, 2013.

When a pregnant patient was losing her eyesight, Dr. Autumn Klein explained her options: Do nothing and risk going blind, or get an operation to save your eyesight and risk losing your baby.

“She was so dedicated and sensitive with this patient to take her through the difficult decision-making,” said Dr. Robert Friedlander, chairman of neurological surgery at the University of Pittsburgh, who performed the operation to save the woman's sight. “Now the woman's eyesight is fine, and she had a beautiful healthy baby.”

Dr. Autumn Marie Klein of Oakland, chief of women's neurology at UPMC, collapsed at home and died on Saturday, April 20, 2013, in UPMC Presbyterian, Oakland. She was 41.

She was born in Baltimore to William and Lois Klein of Towson, Md. At the age of 2 or 3, she would bring books with her when her mother went to the beauty salon.

“She was holding the book upside-down, but to her she was learning and reading,” Lois Klein recalled. “People in the beauty shop used to say to me, ‘She is going to be a sharp child.' ”

She graduated magna cum laude from Amherst College with a bachelor's degree in neuroscience and women's studies before receiving a medical degree and doctorate from Boston University.

Lois Klein said Robert Ferrante mentored her daughter when she was at the VA Hospital in Bedford, Mass. The two were married in the Old North Church in Boston on May 18, 2001. The next day, she graduated from Boston University.

Friedlander recruited Dr. Klein and her husband to Pitt and UPMC two years ago. In addition to her position at UPMC, where she treated pregnant women with neurological problems such as headaches and seizures, she was an assistant professor of neurology, obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at Pitt.

The couple have a daughter, Cianna. If Dr. Klein came home late and her daughter was still awake, she would lie in bed with her until the girl fell asleep, Lois Klein said.

“I was a good mother, but she beat me by far,” Lois Klein said.

In addition to her husband, mother and daughter, Dr. Klein is survived by her stepdaughter, Kimberly Ferrante of San Diego; stepson, Michael Ferrante of Boston; and father, William Klein.

Friends will be received from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday in McCabe Brothers Inc. Funeral Home, 6214 Walnut St. in Shadyside.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions be made to the University of Pittsburgh in care of the Autumn Klein Fellowship in Epilepsy and sent to the Medical and Health Sciences Foundation, Attn: Amy Lombard, 3600 Forbes Ave., Suite 8084, Pittsburgh, PA 15213.

Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7828 or bzlatos@tribweb.com.

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