I received a copy of a letter recently that reminded me of the lasting positive impact that a life in medicine and surgery can have. I asked the author of the letter and her family if we could share their story, and they generously told us to go ahead. I hope it inspires you as much as it did me.
In 1970 my mentor and Doernbecher benefactor, Dr. Mario Campagna, operated on Peggy Baker to clip a brain aneurysm. In the words of her daughter, Sheila (Baker) Bradley, Dr. Campagna “saved her life.” Forty-three years later, Sheila wrote a letter to share the rest of a remarkable story with Dr. Campagna and myself.
Sheila went on to have children of her own, including Jennifer, who herself had a little boy named Owen, who is a terrific kid, full of life, but greatly endangered by severe seizures from a stroke he had before he was even born.
Owen was under the expert care of neurologists in Central Oregon and eventually also at OHSU Doernbecher. Medication, however, could not control his serious epilepsy.
His doctors realized that only a major brain operation, functional hemispherotomy, could disconnect the damaged side of his brain, free him from seizures, and give him a shot at improved development and a healthy, happy childhood.
When I met Owen, I had no idea of the connection between his great grandmother and Dr. Mario Campagna.
It took Owen’s grandmother a few weeks to realize that my position as head of neurosurgery at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital and special support for the work we do here comes from a transformational gift made by Mario and Edith Campagna that endowed the Campagna Chair, which I hold.
Forty-three years after he saved the life of Owen’s great grandmother, the Campagnas’ vision, generosity and leadership made sure the resources were there to treat Owen.
Sheila, Owen’s grandmother, wrote to the Campagnas:
“My family and I thank you both, from the bottom of our hearts, for your generosity and philanthropy that have made this possible for my grandson. You have no idea how much it means to me. You have touched my life twice, and I am grateful.”
For me, the Campagnas have been wonderful mentors and dear friends. They exemplify a life well lived, with exceptional values and lasting success. For Doernbecher Children’s Hospital and Oregon, they have been a true blessing.
Nathan Selden, M.D., Ph.D.
Mario and Edie Campagna Chair of Pediatric Neurosurgery
Director, OHSU Neurological Surgery Residency Program
OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital