But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him and his righteousness with their children's children . . . Psalm 103:17

Sunday, July 20, 2014

We'll see you later, Dr. Burgess

Dr. Burgess on the far right; the CEO of UT Southwestern (of which St. Paul's is a part) in the middle; Aziza, the NICU manager, to the far left. The babies left to right are: Will, Gracie, Marcie, David and Seth
My dad's emails comprise most of this blog post because I don't think I can improve on his words. I have never loved a doctor like I've loved Dr. Burgess. He was/is such a beautiful man. His death is a shock, but I am eternally grateful that he is in the presence of the Savior, worshiping Him and receiving his reward for faithfulness on earth. He blessed everyone I know who knew him. He told me, when I asked how he was enjoying his work at a different hospital, that he missed working at St. Paul's because "these people are like my family." [St. Paul's was able to staff their NICU using faculty, so Dr. Burgess's medical group was no longer needed there. I'm so glad God placed him there for the quints' birth and early months!]

Dr. B was always so comforting, even when he had to be the one to deliver the news that Seth probably had a surfactant deficiency disease and wouldn't live. See http://gavincarrie.blogspot.com/2012/10/seth-surfactant-deficiency-mutation.html

Dr. Burgess always seemed so taken with and awed by Seth when he would see him after discharge. Precious!

Email written by my dad to loved ones and family:

Dear ones,

Dr. Burgess was the lead doctor at St. Paul's Hospital NICU where my daughter Carrie and Gavin Jones went to give birth to their quints. He carefully explained to us that it was important that Carrie's babies not be born before 28 weeks, if at all possible, to enable them to develop as much as possible prior to birth and avoid many of the complications associated with preemies. His  and his staff set up a code 5 procedure as to how they would deal with the babies when they started coming. His team practiced in preparation for that day of delivery. Over 50 medical people were involved in this procedure. To our disappointment the babies started coming at 27 1/2 weeks, but Dr. Burgess and his medical team were ready.

We knew the quints health and life would be touch and go because of their low birth weight, especially for the first few weeks. Seth, the third boy born, was the one with the most compromised lung development issues. His little lungs were damaged by the very process needed to save his life. Both Seth and the tiniest baby Grace needed continual respiratory support.

Four of the five quints continued to improve during their weeks at St. Paul's but Seth was up and down and our hearts were often heavy as we visited with the hospital and talked with Dr. Burgess and his loving staff. It was made very clear to us by Dr. Burgess and his staff that Seth's life hung by a thread. Many nights we learned that Dr. Burgess spent the entire night at the hospital instead of going home and his special mission seemed to be to save Seth's life.

Eventually, Seth's needs required more intensive care than St. Paul's could offer and Seth was transferred to Children's Hospital. Dr. Burgess continued to check in on Seth at Children's hospital and offer his expertise to their staff as well. [Dr. Burgess also checked on Marcie when she was at Children's getting a port catheter because her veins couldn't hold an IV. The nurse was ASTONISHED that he cared so much! She asked if I thought St. Paul's would be a nice place to work. She said she'd love to have Dr. B as her lead doctor.]  At Children's hospital, after much prayer and specialize care, Seth slowly began to get better. With great joy, after spending 5 months in the NICU's of both hospitals, Seth was able to come home. Serious colds during Seth's first 2 years of life required that he be hospitalized several times. Thankfully, he recovered each time. Eventually, he and brothers and sisters traveled to Papua New Guinea as his folks returned to resume their lives as missionaries. Seth's father, Gavin Jones, is a helicopter pilot and his mother, Carrie Jones, is an epidemiologist, training Papua New Guineanians in basic sanitation and teaching health care to health promoters in this developing country. [NOT doing this right now! :}]

A week after Easter this past year,  the Jones's family were invited to a special event, at St. Paul's, a NICU  homecoming. The quints, now healthy toddlers, were all over the place, enjoying the decorations and greeting those that saved their lives from St. Paul's NICU. We were very pleased that busy Dr. Burgess was able to be there. He seemed especially happy to see all the little lives he had impacted. He asked for Seth and Seth gladly went to his arms and laid his head on Dr. Burgess shoulder. As we all looked on Dr. Burgess started to cry and kept saying while holding Seth: "Seth, I thought we were going to lose you." Those of us observing this interaction couldn't help but cry as well. A great doctor with a great heart that ministered to a fragile little preemie and saved Seth's life.

With shock and great sadness we learned of Dr. Burgess's passing. I'm saddened for the babies that still need his care and for the families that will miss a dedicated, caring doctor. Yet, I'm so thankful for Dr. Burgess. Thankful that this man, with his big heart, chose to work with preemies and was there for our fragile Seth. I'm also thankful to God for placing Dr. Burgess and his staff in our lives. You can visit the Jones and follow the quints on their blog: gavincarrie.blogspot.com as they continue to share their adventures in Papua New Guinea.

One thankful Grandfather,

Neal Peterson

Gavin made this plaque expressing our gratitude to the NICU.

From another email, regarding the funeral:

"A rather sad, overcast day! We went to the funeral of Dr. Burgess. [The sermon] was right on and honoring to our Lord, inviting folks to know him.

"After the service we walked down to the reception room to greet Dr. Burgess's wife. Since folks were kinda milling around it was difficult to figure out who was whom. In any event we eventually found her and mentioned how Dr. Burgess saved the quints life. She remembers taking him Mexican food on one of the nights he spent caring for the quints since he was hungry for that!"

Carrie, again: My mom said that Dr. Burgess's wife said working with the quints gave Dr. B great joy. I'm so glad our kids got to be at least one of the highlights of his career! :)

Dr. Burgess was assigned specifically to Baby A (Will), the only baby who stayed in the delivery room with me, so I got to watch him work, seeing his intense concentration - he was really sweating! - as my little guy's limbs flailed around. Dr. B had to ask the nurse or nurse practitioner to hold him tighter as Will was not cooperating with the umbilical cord IV Dr. B was trying to insert. :) It did this mother's heart good to see such a fighting spirit in both baby and doctor!

Gavin, Carrie, Isaac, Will, David, Marcie, Seth, & Grace Jones

Gavin, Carrie, Isaac, Will, David, Marcie, Seth, & Grace Jones

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