Speaking on stage at a Veteran’s Day event for hospital staff, Dr. Richard Brilli started telling a marvelous story about a “miracle kid” from Portsmouth Naval Hospital in the late 80s.
In the audience, Tim Duer was about to fall out of his chair–realizing that the kid was him, 26 years later. He was suddenly looking at the doctor who saved his life, and the two had even been working in the same hospital.
The ‘miracle kid’ from the story was 19-years-old, healthy, and serving in the United States Army when he suddenly came down with a life threatening lung infection that quickly progressed to multi-organ system failure. At the time, Dr. Richard Brilli determined the young man’s probability for survival was zero percent.
Duer’s father spent 3 weeks by his son’s hospital bedside while Tim’s doctor did everything he could to save the patient’s life. The soldier’s father recalls promising his son, “I’m not leaving until you get through this.”
Hopeful that he could increase the young man’s chances of survival, the determined Columbus, Ohio doctor put him on high-dose medications to drive his blood pressure to above normal levels.
“As a physician in the ICU we always know the statistics. That’s not how you take care of patients. You don’t take care of patients based on statistics, you take care of the person in front of you.”
Despite the grueling odds, the doctor’s strategy worked. After weeks in the ICU, Tim was finally healthy enough for release.
26 years later, Duer, now a veteran, was hired to work in Information Services at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Just a few weeks after he was employed, the hospital held the event which reunited the men.
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Duer’s heart raced as he listened to his own story of survival being retold by Dr. Brilli, now the Chief Medical Officer at the hospital. Afterward, he walked up to the doctor and launched the unexpected, heart-warming reunion.
Dr. Brilli choked up when recalling the moment. “The most remarkable part for me is it just tells me how lucky I’ve been and what a God-given gift it was that I got to go to medical school, and do what I do… It’s amazing to me.”
Duer–now a husband, father, and grandfather–struggled to find words that could express his gratitude.
“How do you thank the guy who saved your life 26 years later; what can you say? I think a new word needs to be invented other than thank you, because it’s a thousand times stronger than thank you.”
(WATCH the video below, from Nationwide Children’s Hospital)
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