45 Years and Counting: Undergoing Heart Surgery

Brian Forth 6 Brian Forth

Reflecting on the Dedication of Health Care Providers

Most of us spent our first hours, or maybe days, in the hospital during our birth. And, many of us have visited the ER for broken bones, stitches, or another emergency. Some have spent extended days in the hospital, while others enter and never leave. It is the dedication to hope that motivates the staff of these hospitals to care for everyone, including the rich, the poor, the old, and the very young.

Undoubtedly, the work of the doctors, nurses, and staff is nothing short of extraordinary. As we celebrate National Doctors’ Day, I paused to reflect on my experience undergoing open-heart surgery and the doctor that changed my life.

45 years ago on March 29, I underwent open-heart surgery at the age of two at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. Diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot, I had what could be considered “total repair” eight years before it was routinely seen in infants. The surgery was performed by Dr. Robert Stanton. While I was too young to remember the surgery, I remember visiting Children’s for my annual checkup and seeing Dr. Stanton and “Nick” who ran the Heart-Lung Machine, which kept my two-year-old brain and organs alive when they stopped my heart during surgery.

Brian with his great grandfather, a few months after having open-heart surgery.

Dr. Stanton and Nick were always happy to see me and wanted to know what I was doing, where I was going to school, and my hobbies–all of which were made possible because of what they did for me.

And, 45 years later, here I am: the product of my family, my first pediatrician, Dr. Salawy, the team at Children’s Hospital of LA, Dr. George Eugster (Cardiologist at Sacred Heart in Spokane), and Dr. William Gavin, my current cardiologist at Providence St. Peter.

Their gifts allowed me to have a “normal” childhood. Because of their efforts, I’ve had the opportunity to play Division One Pac-10 college baseball at Gonzaga on a scholarship and also teach elementary school. I am also blessed with a family of my own.

On the 45th anniversary of my surgery and in honor of National Doctors’ Day, I am extremely grateful for the care and knowledge of doctors who are saving lives daily. Many of SiteCrafting’s clients are in the health care industry, such as MultiCare Health System and Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, and we are honored to partner with them and be a small part in helping their patients seek the care they need.

If you would like to learn more about Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, please visit www.chla.org.