You may have noticed the passing of former US Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, who turned in his famous braided Salvation Army captain's uniform on February 25, at age 96. So put out that Kool 100 cigarette in memory of the man, an anti-smoking crusader who also brought early attention to the threat of AIDS. Ya done good, Ev.
Koop also played a major role in Phillipe's life, in a strange and wonderful way.
P. was born with a hole in his heart. At the time, open-heart surgery was in its infancy, and there was no way to put a child under anesthesia for the eight- to-10 hours required for the operation.
You couldn't just give a 100-pound kid half the gas you might give a 200-pound adult. Keeping a young patient alive during such an ordeal would require a more inventive approach.
So a nine-year-old P. was put on a waiting list at Philadelphia Children's Hospital in hopes that doctors could come up with a life-saving approach before time ran out. Along came Dr. Koop, who was head of pediatrics at Philadelphia Children's at the time.
He and his staff came up with a plan: drop the youngster into a tub full of ice water to slow his blood flow and administer just enough anesthesia to put him under without sending him into a coma.
In a pre-surgery visit to the hospital, an X-ray-enabled catheter helped to identify the location of hole (word to the wise here, if a doctor ever asks if you'd like to view your innards via a tube shoved through your vein and out a hole in your heart, take a pass). And soon thereafter, Phillipe became one of the first 10 kids in the country to undergo open heart surgery.
(The modern version of the procedure leaves about a six-inch scar. P. got a "patent pending" incision that runs halfway around his body — and the requisite broken sternum and pried-apart ribs, to boot.)
If not for Koop's genius, and that of his fellow pediatricians, Phillipe would have been unable to take part in gym after age 12. And he would have been a goner, almost surely, by age 20.
Instead, with a repaired ticker, P. was named an All-American soccer player at Brown and has soldiered into AARP membership eligibility with nary a problem. He's even enjoyed a perk: P. is able to impress his friends and frighten his enemies with his human can-opener chest scar.
TAKE A DEEP BREATH
For what it's worth, Phillipe & Jorge have heard good reports on President Obama's choice to head the US Environmental Protection Agency, Gina McCarthy (though we might have preferred Jenny McCarthy, to add a touch of sexiness to the too-sterile EPA).
EPA chiefs, like the heads of Little Rhody's Department of Environmental Management, have traditionally served as legislators' whipping boys and girls.
Indeed, with the GOP attacking her every time she opened her mouth, McCarthy's predecessor Lisa Jackson resigned with a hearty flip of the bird to Congress.
McCarthy is a good, rock-ribbed Bostonian who appears ready to talk shit and take none from the GOP. She will enforce stricter regulations — especially in the area of air pollution, a division she led in the EPA prior to her nomination.