love for the surgeon

Every Thursday I look back at a specific day and time that was spent with my daughter Matilda as she waited for, received, and recovered from a liver transplant. She was in the hospital for 72 days and we remained in NYC until she turned four months old.

November 2nd, 2012 - love for the surgeon

It’s a funny thing to love someone so much that you hardly know. Dr. Florman is a quite man with a gentle voice. He is tall and confident, but kind and endearing. I have only spoken with him a handful of times and yet, I have so much love for him.
He often came to just get a look at Matilda. He wouldn’t say much, but he always asked us how she was doing. He was trying to gauge how sick we thought she was – were we ready to hand her over and was the liver offer good enough for her? We always knew his wheels were turning, but we never knew what was on the table and I am thankful for that. He turned down a liver offered to Matilda at one point and we didn’t even know. We didn’t need to know because we trusted him.

He is the kind of man you want to trust.

Before Matilda was brought back from the operating room, he came in and sat down for a chat. Dahlia was rushing around preparing the space, but he sat so calmly with the biggest grin on his face. I am sure he was exhausted, but he talked about Matilda with such enthusiasm and patience as we asked questions.

The surgery went well. Extremely well. He said he was unsure how the new liver would fit because it had an anatomical anomaly, but when he opened Matilda up and saw she had the same anomaly he felt good that everything else would fall into place. And it did.

He spoke with such concern and amazement. He was not sure how she was still alive because he only found approximately 1% of her liver that was still functional. And he smiled saying, “I have never seen such an ugly, shriveled liver inside such a beautiful baby.”

He spoke with confidence, saying that everything felt so perfect and easy - obviously transplanting a liver from a two week old to a 6 lb Matilda was anything but easy, but the surgery went as well as we could have hoped. He told us that he was tempted to close her, but didn’t want to take the chance – there was no need to rush something as precious as this.

And finally, he reminded us that although everything looked and seemed perfect now, the next few days could be difficult - we were not out of the woods yet and only time would tell.

I hung onto every word that he spoke. I wanted to hug him. I wanted to somehow express how much his skill meant to us. Our daughter was dying, we had been saying goodbye, and now, because of him, she was okay. She would be okay.

I am sure I said thank you a million times and then he was gone.

I have only seen him seen him a handful of times since that night. I don’t even have a picture of him with Matilda. I would love to sit down with him one day in a quiet room and ask him questions about what he remembers. He seems so modest and I'm sure he feels uncomfortable when parents shower him with gratitude.

I imagine that to him, if he takes responsibility for saving a child, then he also must when losing one. And I cannot imagine the weight of that.

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