At the time of the 2013 Boston Marathon, I was a chief resident on the Harvard Combined Orthopaedic Residency Program that includes Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston Children’s Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Massachusetts General Hospital. The bombing at the 2013 Boston Marathon was an unspeakable tragedy which left 282 people injured and 128 hospitalized, 85 of whom were transported to the shelter of our hospitals. Within minutes of the explosions, our surgical teams consisting of attendings, surgical residents, nurses, and scrub techs took countless patients to the operating rooms, including 8 who ultimately required amputations. As a result of their extraordinary efforts, no patient who arrived alive to the hospital lost their life.
The hours, days, and weeks following the bombing brought forth the most eye-opening and profound experiences most of us had experienced as physicians and human beings. We were devastated by the realization that the pellets and nails we pulled from victims in the operating theaters were instruments of malice and terror. We counseled patients through heart-wrenching decisions to amputate extremities with the hope that they would someday regain the strength to walk and run. Ultimately, we stood in applause as the last victim left the hospital.
Now that an air of normalcy has returned and has allowed us a moment of reflection, many of us are grappling with a reservoir of unaddressed feelings: sadness, fear, confusion...Yet, as surgeons, we strive to transform the legacy of this heinous act to one of goodness and recovery. We know that the work is not yet done and that there is more that we can do to heal our patients, our fellow practitioners, and our community.
With this in mind, I will run the 2014 Boston Marathon in honor of those who were injured in 2013 and who have deeply influenced who I am as a surgeon. Patrick, Paul, Rebekah, Erika are always in my thoughts.
The MGH Emergency Response Fund provides social services for victims and families of disasters, as well as emergency care, disaster relief and disaster preparedness training.