We are Blessed with the Best!

Dr. Denton Cooley with Dr. Bud Frazier at an annual St. Luke’s Family Picnic.
Photo source: https://www.tmc.edu/news/2018/11/cool-acres-the-ranch-developed-by-legendary-heart-surgeon-dr-denton-cooley-is-ready-for-its-next-owner/.

February of every year is American Heart Month.  It was started by a native Texan, President Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ). LBJ suffered five heart attacks. He was forty-six years young when he had his first heart attack on July 5, 1955. That was eight years before he became our 36th president after President Kennedy was shot in Dallas. LBJ’s fifth heart attack on January 22, 1973 killed him. He smoked sixty cigarettes per day, ate the wrong foods and never exercised. When he died, two of the three arteries in his heart were completely blocked; the third artery was eighty percent blocked. LBJ was so unhealthy that a Houston heart icon, Dr. Michael DeBakey, refused to operate as LBJ’s heart was basically dead. LBJ started National Heart Month to encourage others not to make the mistakes he made.

Since 1960, the Texas Medical Center has been the world’s best place to seek treatment for heart problems. We are blessed with two of the greatest heart surgeons ever – that same Dr. DeBakey who refused to treat LBJ, and his partner, Dr. Denton Cooley. They became rivals. Their rivalry drove them to change the world. Dr. DeBakey pioneered the use of Dacron to replace or repair damaged arteries. In 1966, he implanted a partial artificial heart into a 37-year-old woman to replace her left ventricle. Dr. Cooley went even further. In 1969, he hooked up a full artificial heart into 47-year-old patient Haskell Karp. The artificial heart kept Karp alive for three days until a donor heart could be found. Dr. Cooley acutally lived with us in Fort Bend!  He would escape to his Cool Acres Ranch near Simonton to relax and rest.  Dr. Denton Cooley and Dr. Micheal DeBakey enriched our lives and make us Fort Bend Strong!

Our blessings are not limited to heart innovations and pioneers. Houston and Fort Bend offer the best medical care the world has to offer. Living in a region of over seven million people, we have our share of life-threatening trauma. Professionals treating trauma live under the “golden hour.” The theory is that if you can get trauma care to a severely wounded person in an hour or less, their chance of survival dramatically increases.  God blessed us with one of the best trauma doctors and innovators to ever live, Dr. James “Red” Duke. Dr. Duke was working in the emergency room at Parkland Hospital in Dallas on November 22, 1963. He was the first surgeon to receive the mortally wounded President John F. Kennedy. He was quickly assigned to save the life of Texas Governor John Connally, who had been shot in the chest while sitting in front of President Kennedy. Ironically, two days later, Dr. Duke was struggling to save the life of President Kennedy’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, who had been shot in jail by Jack Ruby. Two incredible days for a young surgeon who celebrated his 35th birthday the week before.

Dr. Duke moved to Houston in 1972 and went to work at the University of Texas Health Science Center and Memorial Hermann Hospital. Before his death in 2015, Dr. Duke saved thousands of lives. One of those lives is a dear friend, Randy.

About five years ago, Randy was severely injured; he was nearly cut in half.  Amazingly, still conscious, Randy called 911.

And that’s when God saved my friend’s life through Dr. Duke. It was Dr. Duke who was the force behind our Life Flight helicopters – essentially mobile state-of-the-art trauma centers. A Life Flight helicopter landed on US90A to take Randy to the Level I Trauma Center at Memorial Hermann at the Texas Medical Center. Dr. Duke actually lived there and came to check out Randy at the request of friends. Dr. Duke oversaw Randy’s care for months. He had a plan to get Randy home. Randy would be okay if doctor’s could prevent Randy’s massive wounds and dead tissue from becoming infected. It would be weeks before Randy’s intestines could be repaired, so Dr. Duke would pack Randy’s wounds with sugar for nourishment.  Cutting Randy’s dead flesh out with a scalpel would make things worse, so Dr. Duke ordered hungry maggots to be placed all over Randy’s wounds. Maggots only eat dead flesh. Brilliant!

Because of Dr. Duke, we were blessed to have Christmas dinner with Randy and his wife, Cindy, five weeks ago. Randy confided to me that, while he never would wish a crash like he had on anyone, he is thankful that it happened to him because he saw God’s love and greatness in Dr. Red Duke.   Through Dr. Duke, Randy, Cindy, and all of us are Fort Bend Strong!

There’s are old saying that, “A picture is worth one thousand words.” Today, that saying is “An on-line video is worth one hundred thousand words.” Here are a few video examples of our blessings in Fort Bend County. I must warn you that you should have tissue paper nearby because your eyes may get “moist,” and your heart will explode with Fort Bend Pride because we are Fort Bend Strong!

During the COVID pandemic, many family members were not allowed to visit their loved ones to say “goodbye.”  Many of our nurses were and still are the “go-betweens” between the families and the dying. Our nurses were the last touch the dying felt, the last to hold their hand, or the last to whisper in their ear how much they are loved. I will never forget Houston Methodist Nurse Tabatha Ketner taking care of Richard Stuebinger on behalf of his family. Get your tissues out. https://youtu.be/N8UB5T_fo3Y.

Winter Storm Uri surprised all of us.  Many of us were without power or water for weeks. Hope Biosciences was in big trouble. They harvest stem cells from a patient’s fat. They are the first research organization in America to undergo clinical trials to control Parkinson’s Disease with stem cells.  Their patients must have regular injections of their own stem cells.  Hope Biosciences’ water froze. Their patients were on the verge of regression until our Hyatt Place stepped up. Your chest is about to burst with Fort Bend pride! https://youtu.be/fJukUyrHLz8.

And there are many, many, many more stories that are Fort Bend Strong. Zip me your best idea on any topic – pete@absolutelyfocusmedia.com. And please remember to vote later this month. Voters make Fort Bend Strong!