My very dear friend, Shoshana Kohn, had open heart surgery today. I'm sharing her pre-surgery Facebook update because I think what she says matters. I'm a bit ashamed to say I never stopped to think about advances in medical care or donating to medical research, at least not besides the yearly Jerry Lewis telethon I grew up watching with my mother.
The thing is...I should have. When I was four, my mother was in one hospital having my third sister while my father, who was 24 at the time, was in another for surgery to replace the heart valves damaged during a childhood bout with rheumatic fever in Mexico. I do not remember him without the giant pink scar that ran from his collar bone to his belly, nor do I remember ever not hearing the whisper faint tic, tic, tic as his artificial valves opened and closed. The Disney classic, Peter Pan, was incredibly amusing to me and my sisters, because the tick tock croc chasing after Captain Hook sounded exactly like my dad, if you knew what to listen for.
He was never able to sneak up on us after we'd gone to bed, giggling in the room I shared with my sisters, because even with the TV on, we could hear the tell-tale tic, tic, tic...
My husband told me once that when he first met my dad, he just figured his watch was really loud.
Reading Shosh's pre-surgery update today, I think of her and my father. I think of broken hearts made whole with the help of advances in medicine and how the very advances that keep Shoshana's heart beating (and granted me 29 years with my father) are only made possible because of research funded by donations.
Read her words. Send her love and everything positive. Because hope is beautiful. With crazy pink hair
Before 1944, babies born with Tetralogy of Fallot had no chance. After the creation of the Blalock-Thomas-Taussig shunt (pioneered by two women and one man) in1944, babies could live into their late teenage years. The first complete repair was in the mid-50s. When I was born in 1980, they weren't yet doing the open heart surgery on babies. At 1, I had a Blalock-Thomas-Taussig shunt and at 4, I had open heart surgery. At 24, they were able to see if my unborn baby had TOF. They were also able to see if it was genetic. When I was pregnant at 31, they had already been operating on babies for years. When I lost my third baby at 34, we learned that operations aren't perfect, but in the 30 years since my last surgery modern medicine and research has taught doctors what needs to be done over a lifetime and how to make sure we have a long long life.
If you want to know if your money towards medical research actually helps? You want to know if they find cures? They do.
If you want to do something good today, you can say a prayer, but then you can give money to research for a disease or a defect that seems uncurable. Because hope has crazy pink hair, sparkly glasses, a loud mouth, and two beautiful unstoppable children.