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This picture was taken two years ago.  Trey was in the ICU after his last ditch effort surgery went horrifically wrong.  The surgeon was scraping the tumors off of his aorta and three major arteries when he nicked the aorta.  When he went to stitch  the aorta it basically shredded like paper mache.  The surgeon tried another stitch but it did not hold either.  He made the decision to clamp the aorta and call in a cardiovascular surgeon.  That surgeon put in a goretex patch, they closed him up, and left the cancer behind.  The surgery failed.  He had performed over 7,500 surgeries and never heard of it happening before, let alone seen it or had it happen to him.  Obviously, we were devastated that after 11 hours of surgery (that could have lasted up to 40) we were told it had failed.  We were shocked and mortified that we had almost lost Trey that very night.  It would be touch and go that night in regards to paralysis (as he had been clamped off for over an hour), and if he would lose  his second kidney (he had lost one earlier in the surgery which we knew would happen and, in the big picture, was no big deal).  The surgeon was obviously shaken that night and was a mess the next day.  The anesthesiologist remarked at what a warrior Trey was and how he “stayed with him” as he pumped tons of fluid into him all the while lowering his temperature while he was clamped off.  “I never had to back off, his heart rate and every other measurable were strong the entire time.” he said to us.  Trey’s was not paralyzed and his kidney flourished.  He was out of ICU in ten days and out of the hospital in just over two weeks.  Now, two years later, I would like to write this letter to his surgeon.

An Open Letter to a Surgeon…

Dr. Surgeon, it’s been two years since our lives were permanently intertwined.  It feels to a degree that it was yesterday and yet also like it never happened.  I remember the heat that took over my body when you said the words, “We almost lost him.”  I was disoriented and time just stood still.  I appreciate that you were open and honest with us.  I remember asking you what the worst case scenario could be when we met before the surgery.  After you said that not getting the tumors out is the worst case scenario.  You added, “well, there’s always the chance of the patient bleeding out but that’s not really a concern here but anything is possible.”  I asked if it was a less than 5% chance and you replied, “Less than 1%.”  Well…how about that.

As it is, this letter isn’t about that.  Trust me.  I believed in you before that surgery, I believe in you now.  I didn’t blame you then, I don’t blame you now.  I actually felt horrible for you the next morning.  You walked into our room and gone was the confident stride, the bold look in your eyes, and the quick tongue.  Rather, you looked as if you hadn’t slept (you told me that you hadn’t).  My heart went out to you then.  However, I want to say something else to you now.

Thank you.  Seems odd I suppose but hear me out.  I may be wrong but the common belief about surgeons is that you have Mesiah complexes.  I have been told that you have to have that level of confidence, if not arrogance, to even try to do the things you do.  Further, I have also heard that you are supposed to be aloof so that in the event that if the  surgery does go wrong that it doesn’t end your career.  That being the case, there was a moment in Trey’s surgery that rocked your world.  When the aorta didn’t hold the stitch you tried again and then it happened.  You made the decision to call in someone else.  Believe me, I do not know surgery protocol.  However, I want to thank you for that moment of humility and vulnerability.  You relented and called someone else in to fix the situation.

I’m sure you describe the surgery as failed and I certainly see that technically it was.  Yet, I want you to know that I thank God that you had that moment where you decided to call in the cardiovascular specialist.  In doing so you have given us 730 days with Trey that we would not have had if you had not relented.  There would have been no “Make A Wish” trip, no summer of Trey, so many blessings not realized if you would have not been humble in that one defining moment.

Was the surgery successful?  Well…no.  However, you made a decision that dramatically impacted Trey’s, ours, and so many other people’s lives.  For that, I thank you.  God bless you.

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