Going the distance is worth it
Tom was more than a hundred miles away from home when he nearly died. But it turns out that he was in exactly the right spot for life-saving care.
Tom, a Tucson law enforcement officer, was in Phoenix for a meeting when he felt a burning sensation deep in his chest. His colleagues called his wife in Tucson and asked her what they should do. “I know absolutely nothing about Phoenix, just take him to the best hospital,’’ she told them.
They took him to Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix one of the country's top 100 hospitals for cardiac care. Although he was a marathon runner, Tom had a life-threatening aortic dissection; a major artery was splitting open, jeopardizing his heart and causing his lungs and kidneys to fail as well. Five hours after arriving at the emergency department, Tom was operated on by a cardiac surgeon specializing in aortic repair.
Staff later told Tom that he was a "miracle person'' because only 20 percent of people survive that condition.
For Tom and his family, the hospital's constant caring was just as impressive as the surgeon's skill. The nurses and the physicians always spent extra time with him and his family. Some nurses went to different parts of the hospital campus just to visit him after he was in rehab. His cardiac specialists always take the time to answer all of his questions. "There is never a sense of being rushed. You always receive their full attention.’’
Tom still makes the trip from Tucson to Phoenix for follow-up care because of their skill and compassion.
Tom doesn't spend much of his life on the road. He loves riding horses and spending time with his grandchildren. "We are already a close family and what I realized is that I don't really want that to end.''
Tom: I am living proof.