Constable: Blood, pus and tears, but 'Dr. Mercy' loves her patients
"If it's big and gross, find Dr. Mercy," Odueyungbo says with a laugh.
Her show, which airs on Wednesday nights and streams online on TLC.com, isn't the usual routine of pimple-popping and chemical peels.
"There's lots of blood, pus, but I think the worst is maggots," she says during the first episode. "I spent over an hour-and-a-half cleaning out maggots from a woman's head."
In one episode, she removes a lipoma, a benign tumor of fatty tissue that weighs more than a French bulldog, from under a patient's arm. "You can do biceps curls with this thing," Odueyungbo, in her surgeon garb, says as she uses both hands to hoist the 30-pound tumor she removed.
"I do tend to get things that other dermatologists don't want to do," the doctor says.
"I've splattered walls before. I've called in cleaning crews," she says. "Sometimes it can be messy, but I know how the patient is going to feel after the procedure."
Patients on the show often cry tears of joy after Odueyungbo removes bumps, lumps, humps, moles and cysts, fixes disfiguring blemishes, and performs other surgeries that have immediate effects.
"I'm either helping their physical appearance or we're giving them their life back," she says, noting many times she removes tumors that cause pain and keep people from their jobs or socializing with family and friends. "There's always something at the end that's very gratifying."
As a child in Nigeria, Odueyungbo was influenced by her father, Fola, and her mother, Dupe, who were both nurses. "I've just always had an interest in this," she says. "When I was little, he (her dad) would take me to the operating room with him."
Her family moved to Chicago when she was 10 years old. Her mom died of cancer in 2017, and her dad lives in the southern suburbs. Dealing with her mom's death helps her relate to patients.
"I think when you go through a lot of health challenges, it taught me a lot of compassion, a lot of empathy," Odueyungbo says. "I can put myself in their shoes. It just hits me. I imagine myself living through their daily lives."
She says her job includes mental care as well as physical care and that she treats a kid with typical acne with the same concern she gives patients suffering with painful, appearance-altering tumors.
"The 14-year-old girl is going to school and dealing with anxiety," she says. "I don't think one is worse off than another. We're just at different stages of our lives."
Odueyungbo's entertaining instagram.com/dr.mercyod account attracted the attention from officials at Discovery, which owns TLC. "I thought they were joking," she says after the network phoned her. She did a series of interviews and let them see her perform a couple of surgeries before "Dr. Mercy" was a go.
The doctor lives in Marquette in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with her husband, former NFL player Tony Jackson, and their young daughter, Lilly. Odueyungbo spends a week or two every month at her practice in Lombard. "Me, Lilly and my husband load up the minivan and drive," she says of the seven-hour trek. Her husband, whose brief NFL career included stops in Seattle, Oakland and New York, works with her, running "everything outside of the medical stuff," she says. They started dating when they were both students at the University of Iowa.
Her extended family is much, much larger. "If you come into a room to see me, you're automatically a family member," she says of her patients, many of whom give her gifts in gratitude after their surgeries. Patients with a Nigerian background sometimes bring her foods from her homeland, such as spicy jollof rice.
"I've gotten salmon, deer meat, moose," she says of her patients in Michigan's UP. "In Illinois, it's flowers, chocolates and doughnuts."
Even before the show, she had a four-to-six-month waiting list, and now more patients request appointments with Dr. Mercy, which is easier for patients to remember than Dr. Odueyungbo. Because her practice is Lilly Aesthetics, patients sometimes ask for Dr. Lilly, which makes her laugh.
"Lilly's at home playing," Odueyungbo says of her daughter, who turned 4 last week. "You don't want Dr. Lilly."