To The Two Men Who Saved My Life: Thank You and RIP
To the two men who saved my life and who kept me alive way longer than I was expected to live, I say, “thank you.” I was heartbroken (no pun intended) to hear the news today of the passing of my cardiologist, Dr. Richard Zakheim on July 28, and my heart surgeon, Dr. Sambamurthy Subramanian on July 17.
I was born with a congenital heart defect called Pulmonary Atresia. I have beaten impossible odds because of these two men. Not only am I still alive, but I was able to have a normal childhood and a normal life. I played baseball, basketball, hockey, and earned a 2nd-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do.
It was all because of them.
My parents had given Dr. Zakheim an odd gift the first time I was able to leave the hospital. A giant Pink Panther with boxing gloves. Why? Because I finally stopped being purple from not being able to breath properly and turned “pink” and the gloves to symbolize that I was a fighter. Every year I went to see Dr. Zakheim, so too was the Pink Panther. He lost his gloves long ago from age, but Dr. Zakheim kept that Pink Panther in pristine condition having it dry-cleaned and re-stuffed whenever necessary. I’ll never be able to see him or that Pink Panther again… and that just sucks.
I hadn’t seen Dr. Subramanian in decades. But everyone called him “Dr. Superman” because he was just that; a superhero. This October will mark 25 years since my last open-heart surgery. I am grateful for having these two men in my life. Without their dedication, I simply wouldn’t be here. You will both be forever remembered, forever missed, and forever appreciated.