As a child, I was attracted to anything that dealt with medicine. Many stories featured Johns Hopkins Hospital, and eventually I was privileged to spend 36 years at Johns Hopkins working with brilliant and caring colleagues who dedicated their lives to the art and science of healing.
After a storybook career that included thousands of operations and many sleepless nights, I looked forward to retirement, thinking it would be relaxing. However, life throws many curveballs, and sometimes the ordering of our steps is not of our own choosing. I now find myself deeply immersed in trying to heal the health care environment, because if you cure the organism and put it back into a sick environment, you really have not accomplished very much.
Recently, I was giving a speech in Sikeston, Mo., where I had the opportunity to be reacquainted with a 21-year-old man named T.J. He likes to go fishing and play cards with his friends, and to a stranger, he sounds like a pretty regular 20-something. However, T.J. has lived anything but a regular life.
At just 9 months of age, he was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor. His mother was told not to expect him to see his second birthday. This is news that no mother should have to hear. After 17 surgeries -- seven of which I performed in a relatively short period of time -- T.J. was finally out of the woods. Through a combination of providence and the marvels of modern medicine, T.J. survived this ordeal, and it was quite an experience to get to see him and his dedicated family again.
I share this story to help explain why I have decided to become chairman of the Save Our Healthcare Project, which was organized by a group called the American Legacy PAC. Our mission is to lead a national citizens' effort to hold Washington accountable, re-center the health care debate around doctors and patients, and begin the process of replacing Obamacare with patient-centered reforms that will allow every American access to the best, most affordable care in the world. If you would like to join us, please visit SaveOurHealthcare.org.
I believe a nationwide effort such as this is vital. As much as I have been privileged to treat people such as T.J., I am but one person -- and both the problems and the solutions to our health care woes are bigger than any one person.