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This is the story of a "medical case", which was the most emotional one during my whole medical career.
This was in October 1998. I had a call from a young expat lady. She told me that their family had just gone through very big difficulties, but now everything seemed good again, as their second little daughter was 3 weeks old and healthy. She asked me to visit them next day for a well-baby check-up.
(In the mean time it turned out that the mentioned difficulties were the following:
1: Months earlier the young father was involved in a huge traffic accident with a truck in the Ukraine, which very nearly killed him. At the time of this story he was already walking with great difficulty, using a pair of crutches.
2: During the third trimester of her pregnancy the mother was diagnosed with a breast cancer in an advanced stage. By the time of our first meeting she had had the breast removed and was having a cytostatic treatment.)
So in the early afternoon of the next day I visited them at home. The mother told me that the little girl had not been eating well during the day, she didn't know whether maybe there was some minor problem with her. Having a look at her and listening to her heart told me that there was a major problem with her circulation. There was a minor murmur, and more important, she was grayish.
I called my colleague who is a pediatric cardiologist and was in the hospital, and drove the baby and her mother to him. (At the time I had blue lights on my car.) The cardiologist said that the little girl needed major cardiac surgery within about 24 hours. As the father's company was located in a city with a medical facility with a very high reputation also especially in pediatric cardio-surgery, he suggested we organize a repatriation as quickly as possible. The parents decided to follow this advice. I drove them home, waited for them to pack things quickly for mother and baby. It was an emotional farewell. The father staying at home with the bigger daughter, we went to the Institute of Cardiology (where I had worked for 3 months) so that the little patient could be observed until the plane for her arrived.
I left them there with the pleasant knowledge of having been helpful to somebody.
During the evening my family was visiting friends, when my phone rang. I was told that due to the wheather conditions Ferihegy Airport was closed. So was Vienna, Prague being the closest open airport.
The parents were asking me to come to them in the hospital, as decisions were to be made.
I will never forget that situation well after midnight. We were five people, three doctors, besides me the head of the pediatric cardiology dept., Dr. Szatmári, a pediatric cardiac surgeon whose name I don't recall at the moment, and the parents. It had to be decided whether waiting for good weather was an option. The surgeon declared that he would be able to perform the operation. After a long friendly discussion the parents gave green light.
I went home to get some sleep, the others prepared for a major operation to widen the aorta of the little baby.
She is 14 now, a healthy young lady.