Memorable Moments

We asked 10 of the doctors who appear on the lists to share with readers a memorable day or experience in their medical careers.




 

Dr. Veronica Schimp

Division Chief, Gynecologic Oncology
MD Anderson Cancer Center Orlando

On Christmas Eve 2011, I was called to assist an obstetrician who had just done a caesarean section on a woman who had experienced a massive hemorrhage requiring a hysterectomy. I was called in to help stop the bleeding; a few hours later the patient started hemorrhaging again.  We took her back to the operating room and for 45 minutes I held pressure on her aorta. We thought she was going to die.  After this and about 40 units of blood and many other blood products, we controlled her bleeding. I will never forget this mom and the fact that she went home with her new baby and to her family and never really knew what had happened to her.  It was like being the anonymous donor of the greatest gift!
 

Dr. Steven Frick

Chair of Orthopaedic Surgery
Nemours Children’s Hospital

Removing a cast from a young child is rarely easy.  It is even more of a challenge when the child knows from experience that the removal can be painful. One patient who was born with what is often called brittle bone disease had over 100 fractures before she was 10 and more operations than any other patient in my practice.  As a toddler, she would sternly warn me before I would change her cast to “be easy!” 
By high school, her bones had strengthened enough that she wanted to join the ROTC program.  She wrote to me seeking permission and to let me know she no longer needed me to “be easy!” I sent the note, and she marched away with the other ROTC students.
 

Dr. Rachel Humphrey

Medical Director of the Maternal-Fetal Program, Florida Hospital

Last April was the first time I met Elizabeth.  Her face was filled with excitement as she watched her unborn baby on ultrasound. Her joy quickly turned to fear when I showed her that her cervix was open and she was losing her baby. That same day I worked in the operating room to close her cervix and save her baby.  I then saw her through the ups and downs of pregnancy to the birth of her baby boy.  The day I held her son, healthy and strong, I was reminded as to why I chose high-risk obstetrics as my calling. Helping Elizabeth through the hardest challenge she had ever faced was an honor and a privilege I will never forget.
 

Dr. Bonnie Dean

Director of Longenix Anti-Aging and
Optimal Health Center

I was flying home from a ski trip when I heard, “Is there a doctor on the plane?” Time seemed to stop. I stood up and was taken to the front row, where an ashen lady who had recently undergone angioplasty complained of chest pain. I quickly put her on oxygen, and gave her an aspirin and a nitroglycerine tablet. As her color returned, the captain approached and said, “Doc, I can turn around and land in Dallas in 45 minutes or I can continue to Orlando and land in over an hour. What do YOU want to do?” The patient was more stable, so I chose Orlando. As we passed over each city, the pilot asked through the cockpit door (this was pre-9/11) how the patient was doing. I continued to monitor her vitals, and a medical team met the plane when we landed. So ended one of the longest hours of my life.
 

Dr. Jorge Ramirez

Medical Director of Pediatric Nephrology
Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children

When I was a young boy, my father made the very difficult decision to leave everything behind and move our family from Cuba to this country. Seeing his look of pride at the grand opening of the Kids’ Kidney Center at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in March 2011 is the most memorable moment of my career. The center has long been a dream of mine, and its opening was a very emotional moment for me to share with my father, who’s now 85 years old. Because of him, I was able to be a part of this dream and in that way, his family is helping other families every day.
 

Dr. D. Ashley Hill

Associate Director, Department of
Obstetrics and Gynecology, Florida
Hospital Graduate Medical Education

On the second day of my medical school Ob/Gyn rotation, I was walking through the labor unit and a student nurse shouted, “Somebody help! The baby’s coming!”  I ran into the room and saw the baby crowning. The woman asked me if I had ever done a delivery. (My guess is “I’ve seen a video” was not a reassuring answer.) It was her fourth baby, and between contractions she gave me directions on how to do the delivery. As I handed her baby to her I decided on the spot that I was going to be an Ob/Gyn.  Thousands of babies later, I am still grateful to this wonderful lady for showing me the joy and privilege of caring for women during pregnancy and delivery.

Dr. James H. Tarver III

Director of Pulmonary Hypertension Program
Orlando Health Heart Institute

As a medical student I spent time in Nigeria. I was encouraged to be more independent than I would have been allowed to be in the States. Once, I was assigned to treat a man who was severely ill with malaria. I analyzed his blood, established IV access, started oxygen, a blood transfusion and malarial medicine successfully, and was stunned when my mentor chastised me. He complimented me for my correct diagnosis, but explained that I had destroyed two pairs of surgical gloves, (brittle from re-sterilization), consumed the last of the blood in the blood bank, and used one of only four oxygen cylinders in the facility. I learned to value the resources that we have in U.S. medicine and to use those resources wisely.

Dr. Lee Zehngebot

Medical Director of Clinical Research
Florida Hospital Cancer Institute

For weeks, we had heard about a new medicine for the treatment of metastatic melanoma (melanoma that has spread). I had a young patient with melanoma in his lungs and brain and little hope of living without access to a trial like this. Before this treatment option, there were no other standard treatments available to patients like him, meaning a clinical trial was the only way to get the latest treatments in research. Without it, he had about one year maximum to live. This man’s case continues to remind me of the power of clinical research. Within three months, all of his disease was gone. And now, this drug is commonly used. The possibility of this clinical trial and my patient’s bravery to enroll despite the odds is the reason that new treatments are now available for all patients facing a similar diagnosis.
 

Dr. Jason Salagubang

Family Medicine and Geriatric Specialist
Florida Hospital Apopka

When I was a third-year medical student, I once offered prayer to a Buddhist Vietnamese female (I’m a Christian).  She was the first patient I had ever delivered bad news to.  She just seemed so distraught after being told she would likely not live more than six months due to a highly invasive spinal tumor.  Through her niece/translator, the patient accepted my offer.  It was never my intent to force my beliefs on her or try to “convert” her.  I wanted her to know I not only recognized her physical needs, but also the emotional and spiritual components, which could affect her overall well-being. Though I was just a fledging in the medical profession at the time, it remains a defining moment for me that shaped the way I practice medicine today.
 

Dr. Robert L. Murrah Jr.

Orthopedic Surgeon
Level One Orthopedics at Orlando Health

One night, as the intern assigned to the neurosurgery ICU, I assisted in the surgery for a patient who had sustained a critical head injury. She had been struck by a car, a hit-and-run. Along with the surgical team, I helplessly watched her convulse and seize until the family withdrew support the next morning. An MBA student, she was young, beautiful, a star athlete, and 24 hours earlier, perfectly healthy. In those tortuous hours watching her succumb, I became starkly aware of the limitations of our medical knowledge, skills and technology. Despite the body’s amazing healing capacity, life is a precious and fragile gift. This tragedy shaped me in certain ways and remains painful to ponder. It has sharpened my focus on details and heightened my desire to help patients achieve successful outcomes.
 

 

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