At MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, gratitude is expressed each and every day from our friends, families, caregivers, community, and patients. These stories are from across MedStar Health system. Thank you for sharing your experience.
Perseverance and Positivity
Patrick Forbes used to live an active life. He worked as a mechanic, was engaged in his neighborhood, and always had a positive attitude about himself and the world around him. His activity lessened once he was affected by complicated health problems, including suffering from diabetes and tragically losing his left foot in an accident, but his kind spirit remained.
Eventually arthritis and complications from diabetes required two knee replacements. This surgery was successful, but knee replacements with below-knee amputations are extremely rare and his healing proved difficult. Patrick frequently used a wheelchair because of his amputation and his knees had begun to freeze at a 90-degree angle. These frozen limbs required splints and over time a great deal of effort to regain mobility.
Surgeon Jeffrey D. Sabloff, MD at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center said, “This was an unusual case, but he was in a situation where if we didn’t do something, he’d never get up and walk.” Patrick said he appreciates and is grateful for the time and attention Dr. Sabloff dedicated to his treatment. “I never thought I’d walk again,” Patrick said, “but Dr. Sabloff told me ‘we’ll get you out of this chair.’”
Knowing the great results Dr. Sabloff has achieved, patients can see that seemingly impossible results can sometimes be possible. Patrick has always paired medical treatment with a positive attitude. “I don’t let anything bother me,” said Patrick. “Life is good. I’m thankful for my beautiful life.”
One Heart Saves Another
Maureen O’Neil Hooker (pictured right) lived with heart failure for many years due to the damaging side-effects of chemotherapy and reached the point where she desperately needed an organ donation.
At the age of 67, she was given a second chance at life through the tragedy of a 26-year-old organ donor who died suddenly. Maureen got the phone call she had been waiting for, and in the capable hands of surgeons Steven Boyce, MD and Samer Najjar, MD at The Nancy and Harold Zirkin Heart & Vascular Hospital, she received a new heart. "Dr. Boyce and Dr. Najjar's excellence kept me alive then and it keeps me alive today. My experience has given me a new sense of purpose…I genuinely feel like I gained a new life in this hospital."
Maureen is grateful to everyone at MedStar, “an army of phenomenal caregivers,” she said, who gave her this new chance. “Every morning when I wake to the sound of my new heart, I celebrate the gift of life. My gratitude grows with each passing day.”
Maureen further expressed this gratitude by locating the family of the young woman who gave her heart, and became close friends with her mother (pictured left). Discovering her organ donor was a mother herself, Maureen established a scholarship fund to benefit the children of organ donors who gave the gift of life.
Pilot’s Passion Leads to Paralysis Recovery
Lee Sommer’s passion for flying and his pride in managing the historic College Park Airport is limitless. “This is the world’s oldest, continually operating airport and was a demonstration and training site for the Wright Brothers,” he said, happy to remind anyone within an earshot.
On a regular day, doing routine tasks, Lee experienced a slight pain in his back while moving from a large fuel truck to an aircraft. What seemed to be a minor incident rapidly escalated to a cause for concern. “I went to bed feeling okay,” Lee recalled, “but when I woke up during the night, my right leg didn’t work at all and luckily my partner was with me to rush me to the hospital.”
Lee received a diagnosis of a cauda equina lesion, which is an incomplete paralysis that is caused through injury to the mass of nerves which fan out of the spinal cord in the lower back. Lee had lost, in one evening, complete movement and sensation in his right leg which required an immediate surgery. After surgery, Lee was told that with intensive therapy, he would be able to achieve recovery, and was referred to MedStar National Rehabilitation Network for physical therapy.
Lee expressed his gratitude, “Dr. Pamela Ballard evaluated me right away and the next day I started my regimen. The entire team at the hospital was a huge support. Harsh Thakkar, the spinal cord injury wellness specialist was terrific.” Over time, with the expertise and encouragement of his team of therapists, Lee went from no movement, to being wheelchair bound, to now only utilizing a cane to help steady himself.
“This experience has been the biggest challenge in my life,” Lee added, “My personal goal is to get back to 100 percent and I know my caregivers at MedStar are critical to achieving it. I am incredibly grateful for the care I received and the progression I made with the help of my therapist. They put me back on my feet and for that, I’m eternally thankful.”
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Stuart Levine, MD shares how even after a patient passed away from a prolonged illness, a family was profoundly grateful.