EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

August 16, 2013

Letter: Saving lives is what matters most


The Eagle-Tribune

---- — To the editor:

A few minutes ago I was standing naked, in front of the bathroom mirror doing a three-point update, and getting ready to shave. As I did I looked at the scar, now nearly invisible, that goes down the front of my chest. I was thinking of the doctor who cut me open and took my heart out, turned it over and laid it on my chest while he repaired it as nonchalantly as my son works on automobiles.

I hope he was having as much fun as my son gets from fixing things.

I remember when he came to my room before the operation and talked with me. He told me my chances of surviving the operation, which were very good, and my chances of not coming out of it at all, which were small. He also explained the consequences of doing nothing, which were very bleak.

He then said, “I understand you were a police officer Mr. Sewell.” I said yes. He then told me, “I always wanted to be a police officer.” I explained that he saves more lives in a week than I saved in my whole career. Then almost under his breath he said, “That’s what it is all about, isn’t it Mr. Sewell.”

That was the first time and the last time I ever saw him. But I remember him well.

Strangely I don’t recall his name. He had an unusual Jewish name and I am very bad at remembering names, especially if they are not names I hear a lot.

Every year after the operation I sent him a card, thanking him for another year of life. Last year I received a call back from his secretary telling me he had passed away from colon cancer. He was 10 years younger than me. Ironic, I thought. He saved so many lives and then lost his so early. He was about 53 years old.

I wondered about the fairness of life and the possibly of a life after this one. I hope there is a hereafter and he has received some kind of special reward for the lives he saved and all the misery he saved those who loved his patients.

I didn’t give much thought about his wish to be a police officer until some time later when I wondered why he never sent me a bill for his services. I realized how important he thought it was to be police officer.

Gerald A. Sewell

Haverhill