Monday, January 12, 2009

Bob McCoy

Leading edge healthcare is part of Durham’s brand, and it isn’t unusual for dignitaries to come here from all over the world.

But it really makes you feel proud, and humble at the same time when it is someone you know.

My friend Bob McCoy was sent here for a liver transplant a couple of years ago. He never stopped raving about the process, the teams that worked on him, and of course Durham. But there have been problems since then, and his Doctors told him he’d need another transplant.

Bob’s been my counterpart in Winston-Salem, NC until he got caught up in one of those all too often political power struggles that occur when power politics tries to trump or should I say steamroll policy. Even though he was sick, he did what CEO’s have to do in those cases, and held ground on behalf of the Tourism Development Authority, and the community.

But as another friend of mine told me after he went through a similar problem in Florida, after the blood-letting, and people are ready to move on, very often, no one wants someone in the room with blood spattered all over him. That’s the price that all too often comes with the job.

But for Bob, blood is more than a metaphor. He is selling his house, his art collection and most of his possessions so he and his partner can take care of what matters first, his health.

Well , Friday afternoon he got the call to leave Winston-Salem for Durham within 20 to 30 minutes. Three livers had become available all within about a 24 hour period, and Bob was going to get one of them.

Having seen the drill, Bob and Vince already had bags packed, and at the door. But he had been told a week or so earlier that he had been moved down the priority list due to some sudden, and more serious conditions in other patients. So the call on Friday was a surprise, and I can image they hit the door and were on the road within five minutes.

Bob went into surgery at Duke about 10:30 p.m. Friday night. They finished at 4:30 a.m., well under the expected time. Second transplants are typically harder, and more time consuming due to scar tissue but Bob’s went surprisingly well.

He was in and out of consciousness Saturday, but in good spirits, cracking jokes during those brief moments when he was awake.

He is expected to be out of ICU today, and the next step in about a week or so is a move to an apartment here in Durham during 3-4 weeks of recovery.

This is when the Durham brand means more to me than ever.

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