“I Won’t Accept a Child Dying!”

Congenital Heart Disease

Reader’s Digest magazine influenced my life – twice.

In 1977, with a story about a living God.  A heart surgeon named Denton Cooley.  He was glamorous, a pioneer and entrepreneur.  Operated on princes, presidents and prime ministers.  In all, over 75,000 operations.  Founded the world-famous Texas Heart Institute in Houston.

I wanted to be like him.

A 1989 issue I read during my medical internship featured a neurosurgeon named Tom Peters.  One sentence in his interview remains burned into my mind:

“I don’t accept children dying.”

This time, I didn’t just *want* to be like him.


I too won’t accept a child dying.  I made myself a promise.

Anything… ANYTHING that is within my power to prevent it happening, I will do.

= = = = =

1989 was the year I grew up.

When I realized – and accepted – that life is unfair.

1989 was when a 22-year old held my hand as his life ebbed away

1989 was when I lost a loved 8-year old niece to an untreatable kidney ailment

1989 was when I watched helplessly as a teenager succumbed to a terrible severe viral infection.

It hurt.  Terribly.  Deeply.

And proved beyond doubt that life isn’t fair.

But that’s alright.

We just need to tweak the odds – in our favor.

That’s what technological advances, evolution – indeed survival itself – is all about.

Tweaking the odds in our favor.

= = = = =

A child’s life is precious.  VERY precious.

It’s loss – crushing.  Mind numbing.

It may be Nature’s law – but I don’t like it.  Never will.

I will NOT accept a child dying.

Many forms of congenital heart disease make survival impossible… unless they’re repaired.

That’s one reason I became a pediatric heart surgeon.  Apart from the challenge, the technical, intellectual and emotional puzzles that the specialty poses its practitioners.

The latter, sadly, creates unemotional automatons who get caught up in their craft, forgetting or ignoring the human element.  The stress, the pain, the helplessness associated with the problem.

And the staggering cost.

Most CHD families cannot afford the expense.  Even when they know it’s the only way to save their child’s life.

Heart birth defects have a unique social dimension.  Young families, just starting out on their careers and settling down, with little if any financial cushion, suddenly are confronted with a daunting choice…

Raise the money (often paralyzingly huge sums), else watch your child suffer – or worse.

Most of my work online aims to tackle this facet of a complex problem.  I can (and do) deal with the medical and emotional elements.  But alone, I can’t help with the financial ones.

That’s why I need YOUR help.

The children do.

Thanks to the heartwarming generous outpouring from a group of amazing folks, more than 100 children have been treated.  They will live long, healthy, happy lives.

But there are many more waiting.

Waiting for you and me.

Together, we can save more lives.

You’ll help make a difference.  You are special.  And I’m honored to call you my friend.

Thank you – from my heart!

Together, let’s save many more little lives.