Sunday, August 5, 2018

An Angel for Our Angels, Volume 5

"Although we have never met Dr. Campbell, words can’t describe our gratitude. Two years ago, our surgeon told us that VEPTRs were our daughter’s only hope. Now, two years later, our daughter’s 3 VEPTRs have allowed her to grow and thrive beyond our expectations. We are forever grateful for this wonderful doctor."
-Cheryl Rawlings


“Mourning the loss of this wonderful man, doctor, surgeon and human. Dr. Campbell was the co-creator of the VEPTR implant that Erin received when she was 3. He helped thousands of children to be able to breathe, get straighter, live healthier, and longer lives.

He was practicing in Texas when Erin was eligible for implantation. Due to a scheduled presentation at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC), Erin's surgeon, Dr. Alvin Crawford, was able to have Dr. Campbell in the operating room with him. Erin was the first "Rib Kid" at CCHMC, and was blessed to have both of these surgeons doing her surgery. We will never be able to thank Dr. Campbell for all he has done. Godspeed, Dr. Campbell!”
-Gail Kimball


In 1998 Lorenzo was the 60th child to experience  the VEPTR implant (#27 for Christus Santa Rosa, TX implants). Beginning with my first phone call and Lorenzo’s initial Smith-Campbell consultation I have always felt gratitude for the team’s innovation, care and willingness to go where others did not. The impact Dr. Campbell’s legacy has on countless lives, but for Lorenzo and our family the VEPTR impact can be measured with every full breath, every pixie like run, every bike ride, and every alpine ski run Lorenzo completes. The freedom Lorenzo has gained from the Dr. Campbell and Dr. Smith’s  groundbreaking creativity and persistence is awe-inspiring. 

Over the past 21 years Dr. Campbell has strengthened my character and elevated Lorenzo’s life through his active listening, attention to quality, and unconditional care. Dr. Campbell’s biopsychosocial medical framework infused innovation, interdisciplinary thinking, unwavering trust and fun into how I oriented to Lorenzo’s medical treatment. Dr.  Campbell embodied and inspired others to consider Lorenzo’s biological, social and emotional heath. He took the time to get to know Lorenzo’s personality and disposition, as well as the nuances of Lorenzo’s blended family and our over all wellbeing. Yes, Dr. Campbell, Lorenzo and the TX and PA interdisciplinary teams addressed medical challenges, that enables Lorenzo to live his fullest richest life. However, as these medical interactions unfolded Dr. Campbell and Lorenzo also ate cookies, shared songs, read books, played with bubbles, co-created art and showed me how to make unconditional love a way of being. 

Cheers to a life well lived and my heartfelt condolences to all who loved and supported Dr. Robert M Campbell Jr.”
-Michelle Marigliano (Mother of Lorenzo DiAndrea)


“Dr. Campbell saw Caleb when he was less than a year old and described him as a “sinking ship”. Caleb was underweight, trached and ventilator dependent.  He could not make noise, crawl, sit up alone or eat.  Dr. C was willing to take a chance on him when no one else would touch him.  

Caleb loved how he called him “big guy” like I’m sure he called a lot of the other kids he helped.   Caleb always felt at ease with him. He gave our family a sense of immediate trust and peace. 

Since I heard of his passing, I see my son again in new light- amazed by simple things like watching him play with his siblings.  Dr. C did 17 surgeries on Caleb since we first met him 7 years ago.  Thank you Dr. Campbell, we love you.”
-Meg Davis



"My son Mason wasn't treated by Dr. Campbell himself,  but by other doctors who he had trained to do the surgery. We were told Mason would not make it past his teenage years and at that not with any quality of life, due to his severe congenital scoliosis, fused rib cage, and multiple chest/spine anomalies. We were told he would slowly suffocate to death due to his rib cage not being open, so that his lungs can grow properly into adulthood. 

The process started when he was 6 months old and continues today. He had anterior/posterior spinal fusion when he was 1 year old (that was the best they could do then). We were asked if we wanted to take part in an experimental group called veptr when Mason was about 3 years old, because this new technology and  surgery was saving  kids' lives. 

Mason's doctor said he would send Mason's file to Texas for evaluation to see if he would be a candidate for the  program. There were no doctors/hospitals near us that did the surgery, so we were prepping for how to make all the trips to Texas possible. We got word, Mason was accepted!  Dr. Campbell said he could fix him :)  About the same time, Los Angeles Children's Hospital opened a program and we started making the long trips down there multiple times, but their program was shut down, so now what? We waited, wondering what was next- that's it, we're going to Texas to see Dr. Campbell in person.

Then Dr. Smith from Utah came to California and guided/trained our doctor here at Valley Children's Hospital to implant Mason's veptrs. He was about 5 years old. Then the process of every 6 months surgery, recovery, and pre/post appointments started. Mason is such a trooper and everyone loved him at the hospital. He broke a rod once during recovery and had to have it reimplanted and the doctor said 'we can fix that' -something Dr. Campbell would say. 

Yes, he has 10,000 scars, he's way smaller than kids his age, he walks slanted over, he wears glasses and hates to read, but he belongs to a special group of kids (veptr) and has learned to handle surgery, daily pain, teasing and bullying. It has all worked together to make him the strong person he is today. 

Mason's next veptr appointment is next week and they are wondering and figuring out what his next step is: leave them in,  take them out, do other rods, etc. He's had three years surgery-free from expansions. I am going to miss that they do not have Dr. Campbell's expertise and guidance any longer during this process, but....

Guess what? Mason is a thriving, go get em, I can do anything 18 year old now who did not suffocate to death during his teenage years. He runs track, loves to fish, does Crossfit, competitively swims, plays basketball, archery, trap shooting, loves hanging out with his friends and family, and many, many more. He's even been able to hang a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. TIS  never broke his spirit and never will. We have to tell him no sometimes, so he doesn't blow a rod ;)

Why is that? Because of Dr. Campbell's want, drive and strive to help TIS kids. Without his ingenuity, heart, soul, love for children and families, engineering, modifications, constant research, searching for a company to manufacture the rods, reading xrays and other packets from other doctors, training of doctors all over the U.S. and many other countries, a lot of kids and families would not be with their loved 'little' ones today.

I feel that God works through people and Dr. Campbell was an angel on special assignment from God. Thank you Campbell family for sharing him with us throughout the years. We are truly grateful for his love and commitment to the veptr community.

-LeeAnne Ramsey





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