Ohio Woman One of Many With Place in Her Heart for Dr. Koop
Linda Faraday stands with her husband, Murry, yesterday in Fremont, Ohio. The late C. Everett Koop saved her life in a 1952 operation when she was 4. “He was one great man,” Faraday said. (Randy Roberts photograph)
Dr. C. Everett Koop, surgeon-in-chief at Children's Hospital in Philadelphia, talks about surgery that separated 13-month-old conjoined twins in September 1974. (Associated Press - William G. Ingram)
Linda Faraday provided an itemized bill of the 1952 procedure C. Everett Koop did on her.(Courtesy photograph)
Linda Faraday wasn’t expected to live past childhood. These days, she’s 65 years old and resides in Fremont, Ohio, roughly 45 miles southeast of Toledo.
She’s also profoundly grateful to Dr. C. Everett Koop, the former U.S. surgeon general who died Monday at his Hanover home.
It was Koop who saved Faraday’s life with a 1952 operation. The man who would become the most famous surgeon general of the 20th century was then surgeon-in-chief at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where he operated on a 4-year-old Faraday to correct abnormalities caused by a rare and complex heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot.
A grouping of congenital abnormalities, the malformation is the most common cause of blue baby syndrome and affects about five of every 10,000 babies, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Professional snowboarder and Olympic gold medalist Shaun White is perhaps the most famous person affected by Tetralogy of Fallot; he underwent a pair of open-heart surgeries during his first year of life.
Faraday has since had four other open-heart surgeries and two other procedures. It hasn’t been an easy life for the former nurse’s aide, but she also realizes that none of her the six decades would have been possible if not for Koop.
“I thank God for him every day of the week,’’ Faraday said. “He was one great man.’’
Faraday’s father, who worked for the West Virginia Pulp and Paper Co. near Altoona, Pa., brought her to Philadelphia for surgery. Kept in a crib covered by an oxygen tent, she tried to distract herself with crayons and coloring books, she recalled, but it wasn’t until a visit with Koop that she was able to somewhat relax.
“I can remember being scared, but he kept telling me everything is going to be OK, you just have to calm down,’’ Faraday said. “His caring was his signature and he had the best bedside manner you’ve ever seen. He talked to you in straight terms, not medical terms. That startled my dad, because half the stuff other doctors told him about me, he couldn’t understand.”
Faraday, whose maiden name was Houck, still has the bill that the hospital sent her father . The surgery and hospital stay cost about $265, and although Faraday recalls her family’s regular doctor being impressed by Koops’s work, he also told her father he didn’t expect Linda to survive past age 10.
“I had pneumonia a lot of times and I was only allowed to go around the roller-skating rink a couple of times or ride my bike for half an hour and then I had to go sit down,’’ she said. “But I got to the point where I wanted to do more and I wanted to be somebody.”
After a career working with the elderly, Faraday has been slowed by four additional heart surgeries, the implantation of a stent and a catheterization procedure.
She said she experiences problems with circulation and breathing, but has been told by doctors that another heart surgery isn’t possible because of the health risks. She plans to travel to the renowned Cleveland Clinic next month for a second opinion.
“I’m the oldest living pediatric heart patient there is in our region in Ohio,’’ Faraday said with pride in her voice. “All things considered, I’m doing all right.”
Koop’s widow, Cora Hogue, wasn’t surprised to hear about Faraday’s story and the strong feelings she had for Koop.
“Everywhere we went, people off the street down to the chef in a restaurant would come up to (Koop) and say, you operated on me as an infant,’’ Hogue said. “He was like a rock star, because he did thousands and thousands of operations, and he would show affection for these people, especially the ones who had endured very complicated or numerous surgeries.”
Hogue recalled one brief but memorable encounter on the streets of Philadelphia, when she was in the back seat of a taxi while Koop was riding up front, beside the driver. Koop’s window was rolled down and as the cab idled at a red light, a large delivery truck pulled up alongside him.
“The driver shouted ‘Hey, Dr. Koop, you operated on me when I was first born. Thanks for saving my life!’ ” Hogue said with a chuckle. “Then the light changed and away we went.”
Tris Wykes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3227.