22 August 2005

21 AUG 05 My first trip to Alaska

21 AUG 2005

The Book is Out!

Dear Friends,

Meredith took the letters I wrote home from Iraq, converted them from my freestyle grammar to actual English, and has published them with the press, iUniverse. We wanted to do something more for veterans and their families, so 10% of the cost of each book will go to Fisher House, a home away from home for the families of injured war veterans undergoing treatment at military medical facilities. Of course you all have read the letters already, but if you still want to do something for Fisher House, check them out at:


The book can be viewed at the publisher’s:


and it’s also on Amazon:


This past weekend I got to make a quick little trip up to Alaska. There was a 20-month-old baby there who had a severe case of pneumonia and required a lung bypass machine called ECMO to survive. Our hospital, Wilford Hall Medical Center, in San Antonio, is the only facility in the world that has long-range transportable ECMO so we were summoned to see if we could help him out.

As the surgeon, I had the easiest job of all. My purpose was to perform the procedure on his neck to connect the boy to the ECMO machine. Basically I flew 20 hours to do 20 minutes of work! The ECMO team of physicians and nurses did an amazing job of keeping the boy strong and getting him back to Texas safely. He is still in critical condition, but I see little signs of improvement now and then so I have high hopes for his recovery.

My patient, baby I., in Iraq has been up and down, but the last note I got from her father was encouraging. She had been troubled by a fever recently but it has gotten better and she feels well. Her father asked me when I was coming back to Iraq. He had difficulty getting her to be seen in an Iraqi facility, and was eager for me to return. What a surprise it is to me to find that I feel a tug on my heart to see Balad and this family again.

Today we held the Society of Air Force Clinical Surgeons Meeting. It was a great chance to get together with some of the wonderful people with whom I got to work in Balad. Each of the different specialties presented their experience to the visiting surgeons. It was great to see neurosurgeon Lee, who has moved on to private practice in Alabama. He was in civilian clothes and looked relaxed and happy.

M., the boys and I have been trying to take advantage of the gaps in my schedule to relax and have some fun. We’ve been going to work out, swim, and last night we hit the bowling alley! Every day I am thankful to be home and I don’t think I could ever take it for granted again!

Well, it’s not much to report, but life is happily calm and uneventful. I hope that you all are having fun and lovin’ life!

Your friend,


Here is the Astrocam launch at Ronald Reagan High School and an in-flight photo

Here we are loading up the C-5 for Alaska and then flying baby M. home in the C-17

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