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Healer becomes hero

Dshatz Saturday started as a normal day for Dr. David Shatz (left). On call at Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center, the veteran trauma surgeon's morning was about to get intense.

He was called to the scene of a grisly accident on the Palmetto Expressway in Hialeah. Shatz's task: Amputate 17-year-old Leonard Sanchez's right arm, so rescuers could free him from underneath his father's cement truck.

Two days later, hospital administrators had to twist Shatz's arm to get the modest doctor to update the media on the case.

I showed up late to the press conference. Shatz was gone, I was told, already back in surgery to work on Sanchez. Then the hospital's PR woman said the last thing I expected: "The doctor will let you scrub in. Let's go to surgery."

Five minutes later and my body covered in hospital scrubs, a nurse warned me not to vomit. She opened the OR door, and there I was.

No need to recount all the sounds and smells. But what does need to be said, I tried to convey in a story on Wednesday's front page: Shatz is a passionate, motivated doc who is sacrificing his own sleep and family to bring some comfort to Sanchez and his parents.

Here's wishing Sanchez a full and speedy recovery. Shatz should be able to say by the end of the week whether he thinks the teenager has enough shoulder tissue remaining to be fitted with a prosthetic arm.


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