Hero (noun): a person noted for courageous acts or nobility of character; a person who, in the opinion of others, has special achievements, abilities, or personal qualities and is regarded as a role model or ideal.
Dr. Campbell was a true hero to our family and to so many others. He created the VEPTR, the device that has given us 7 wonderful years with Abby. He has been our surgeon through thick and thin and has never given up on Abby, even when things seemed rather hopeless.
I'll never forget the first time we met him. It will be 5 years ago tomorrow that we had decided to go to CHOP to get his opinion on Abby's spine and ribs. We had been told by another orthopedic surgeon to just wait until things started to get bad, and that didn't sit well with me.
From the moment Dr. Campbell walked in the room, I knew we were in the presence of a brilliant man. Yet, he was always so humble. I've learned from experience that there are very few humble, brilliant surgeons! With his slow Texas drawl, Dr. Campbell proceeded to describe what Abby's ribs and spine looked like based on his experience with other kids with CCMS. Until now, we had never met another doctor who even knew what CCMS was, much less had operated on a CCMS kid!!! We knew we had made the right decision in going to Dr. Campbell.
Since then, Dr. Campbell has performed numerous surgeries on Abby. He always reassured us with his calm demeanor and quiet confidence. He really stressed quality of life, and we loved that about him. One of my favorite sayings of his was, "I can fix a broken rib, but I can't fix a broken spirit." While it would be easiest to keep Abby in a bubble, Dr. Campbell taught us to try to adapt activities to make them work for her. His philosophy has greatly affected the way we parent Abby.
Yesterday, our VEPTR community was sent reeling when we heard the news that Dr. Campbell had passed away. I am comforted in knowing for certain that Dr. Campbell is in the presence of God. I've been imagining all of the VEPTR kiddos who have left us running up to him with straight spines and healthy lungs to welcome into Heaven. But oh, will he be missed here on Earth!
Some of you may wonder how we can be so attached to a doctor, but Dr. Campbell is so much more than a doctor to us. He gave us hope when there was none. He saved Abby's life, and we owe him a debt we cannot repay. The VEPTR community is working on ways we can honor Dr. Campbell's legacy, but no amount of thanks will truly show how much he means to us.