Gary Horton: A new view this new year


Few things might be as humbling as receiving a successful organ transplant. Completely at the mercy of another’s misfortune, and subject to the gifts and talent of a surgical team, the recipient is placed into a position of total supplication.

As is also the recipient’s family, close friends, and all those affected.

On the opposite end of the equation is profound loss. A lost life. A lost loved one. Life plans not postponed, but terminated. Except for the gift of health or sight to another human, coming from what would otherwise be total tragedy.

This will be a very short column. I’m jotting this note from the waiting room of Henry Mayo’s outpatient surgery.

Modern medical science has somehow so quickly advanced that cornea transplant surgery can be achieved in an hour or two and with minimal complications if things go well.

“Everything transpired perfectly!” exuded a very pleased. Dr. Helm. “A perfect result!”

Just what we had hoped for over on the receiving end. And almost certainly, too, from the donor family.

Our daughter, Katie, had suffered an eye infection as an infant, subsequently making her 30 years through life with largely blocked vision in her left eye.

Accurate vision of surroundings is now particularly important to her well-being, and Dr. Helm indicated that technology had advanced to a point where her particular case was now a very good prospect for a strong outcome.

So we packed off at 6 a.m. Tuesday morning, and four hours later we will be traveling home with our daughter, currently with patched eye, soon to realize clear vision for the first time in her life.

Receiving such a gift so profound yields quick recognition of core life concepts.

We need each other. We need the love that promotes one human to donate organs to others, usually to someone unknown to them.

We need science. We need to continue to promote the broad and generous education that pushes medical and other science forward.

Just a few years earlier, the DALK surgery benefiting Katie simply wasn’t available as a viable option. Each day, month, year, improvements are made that assist you and me. We need to embrace science.

We need open communication between borders and cultures. Years ago, radial keratotomy, a procedure benefiting millions of Americans, was first developed in communist Soviet Union. DALK was developed by a Saudi.

The U.S. is indisputably the world’s science leader, but great minds come from all nations and all colors and all persuasions. We need communication, understanding, and intercourse of ideas.

Finally, we need appreciation for those who serve and help us now, and all those who’ve worked for our benefit before us. Family. Friends. Teachers. Protectors. Researchers. The list is very long.

Christmas is only a few days over but the Horton family just received the most remarkable gift from a family we’ll not likely ever know, this at the hands of a surgeon and surgical team who were very caring and competent.

Next up comes New Year’s Day. May we all resolve to appreciate the great indebtedness we share, one to one another. Our family certainly senses that today.

Gary Horton is a Santa Clarita resident. “Full Speed to Port!” appears Wednesdays in The Signal.

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