BENEFITING: MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL
ORGANIZER: MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL
EVENT: 2017 Boston Marathon
EVENT DATE: Apr 17, 2017
Turning a tragic loss into a big win.
My father, James DelVecchio passed away at Mass General Hospital on Sunday, January 24th, 2016. He was a patient in the Cardiac Intensive Care unit at Mass General Hospital for just under two weeks.
During that timeframe, my father was faced with many obstacles regarding his heart condition(s). Our family was grateful for the opportunity for him to undergo care at one of the most remarkable facilities, despite the pre-conceived notion that this would be his last stop regardless of the outcome. It was a very difficult time for our family and to witness the deterioration of my father’s body and character was devastating. However, the continued support of the staff and doctors was incredible. At times, we were unsure if he was just another number in the hospital because of the various options they continued to present to us. In hindsight, we realize they were quite literally, simply looking out for my father’s best interest and offering us all the most up to date and effective treatments. In the end, despite aggressive and immediate attempts to save my father’s life, he did not survive.
On Wednesday, January 20th, my father went into cardiac arrest. He was resuscitated 4 times before emergency heart surgery was performed. My father was placed on an ECMO machine which was incredible yet very scary to see in motion. It was not certain how he would manage to build up enough strength to be removed from this machine but there was still a small amount of hope circulating around him. He opened his eyes on Saturday, January 23rd. He was very much in pain and the anguish on his face was clear. He was sad, mad & scared but most of all, anxious for the end. We surrounded him on the morning of January 24th after his lungs had collapsed. We were grateful for his eyes to still be open and his ability to ask to be removed from the ECMO. We watched his life slip away, peacefully. I will never regret the decision to witness such an event.
During this time, I was training for my 3rd Boston Marathon in support of The Greg Hill Foundation. During the weeks that my father was ill, I was training on the course and immediately would come to see him afterwards. During one of the runs, it was cold and pouring rain and I remember thinking “once you get thru this, you get to see dad”. When I went into MGH that afternoon, he was clearly uncomfortable and tired. Despite this, he turned over and said “Did you run” and I said “Yes dad, I ran”. He looked at me and said “good girl”. And went back to sleep. My father always supported my running and was astonished each time I completed a marathon. It was incredibly difficult driving into Boston each week to train after his death because I was constantly reminded of the image of him leaving us. I completed the marathon for him; he always wanted to run but never really had the leg strength. In the end, he complained so much of leg pain. During the marathon as my legs started to tire and ache, I remembered him crying about the pain he felt in his legs. That was all I needed to finish. This time around, my training, fundraising and completion of the marathon is 100% for him. He will carry me thru as he did when I was a child, holding my pinky finger because his hand was too big too hold, opening up his jacket to hug me and keep me warm, holding me tight when he was afraid I would get hurt. This entire process is for my whole family, to find peace in our loss.
I feel very fortunate to be able to give back to the hospital what they gave to us; hope and opportunity. I want more families to be able to be presented with state of the art treatments regardless of cost.
I want to see more of patients like my dad, have the best fighting chance there is. Please take an extra minute to read about the Emergency Response Team that I have chosen to support below. Thank you for your anticipated support.
The funds raised for the Emergency Response team provide critical support for emergency care, disaster relief and disaster preparedness teaching and training at Mass General, efforts that benefit victims worldwide.
Team runners raise money to ensure that Mass General is ready for the next disaster – man-made or natural. Marathon funds support the training and resources needed to develop a carefully, integrated response that spans multiple departments throughout the hospital. “There’s no room for error,” says David Brown, MD, chief of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Mass General. “Our performance must be flawless. As in football, if one player of the 11 on the field doesn’t do the job, the play fails.”
At Mass General, we take emergency planning very seriously. Preparing for the next disaster takes much training and practice. And donors are critical to our success. Time spent training is not covered by insurance and often takes place outside work hours. Money raised by the Mass General Emergency Response team allows Mass General to ready at a moment’s notice.