Thank You, Dr. Kato
Ana’s story isn’t over yet. She’s still in the hospital, and is at the beginning of life with her new liver. An outcome, quite honestly, I could NEVER have imagined six months ago when we brought her into the ER at Kingston thinking she had appendicitis. I didn’t know there were people like Dr. Kato out there who we’d desperately need. I didn’t know! How could I have?
How do you thank someone who saves your child’s life? Why does someone like Dr. Kato decide to become a transplant surgeon in the first place? For me? For Ana? Surely..not. Right?
These questions keep running through my brain and when I see him, I wonder if it’s appropriate to hug him or to hold his hand and say, thank you, thank you, a thousand times thank you for being brilliant, and brave and just a little bit crazy. We stepped into Dr. Kato’s world the day that E.R. attending in Kingston told us Ana had a massive tumor on her liver. We spiraled towards him, inexorably as each week passed, and each doctor said, “no, we can’t save her liver.” I’ll be the first to admit we fought it. We were scared. She was HEALTHY before she wasn’t anymore, after all. This wasn’t supposed to happen to her. But what does that even mean?
We were forced to face our fear and give her up to Dr. Kato and, in the end, he was there. Thank god and the universe for him. Thank god for everyone that was in the O.R. last Tuesday, making sure she was okay. How can anything ever be the same again now that I know that people like Dr. Kato exist and go to work – saving people – each and every day while I sit here and live a small life? How can thank you ever be enough? But it has to be, for now. Everything feels so fragile and precarious – this second chance. Like brittle ice about to shatter. And Dr. Kato has the power to come in and put the pieces back together – LITERALLY! What must that be like?
What can I say to him? How can I tell him what this means to me? Ana will grow up with a different liver than she was born with. She will fill the world with her potential and her strength and her talent, like she was meant to all along. And Dr. Kato, born with the power to heal, is the person who made that possible.
I was in Ana’s room today, putting clothes away and straightening up – getting ready for her to come home. I was looking at pictures of her from third grade and thinking how long ago it seemed when she was just 8, Emily’s age, and we didn’t know this was coming. I drove past a favorite spot of hers this morning – the Frog pond in Rosendale – and thought that maybe, in a few months, we’d get to go visit there again and have a picnic, and catch some frogs. Each moment I have with her is a gift he’s given me. Each text she sends, each word she speaks, each moment of hope I feel – hope that replaces the despair that’s overwhelmed me, is a gift.
Dr. Kato, I know you didn’t do it alone. I know that! But it was your steady hands, your quiet brilliance, your absolute laser focus on making sure everything was perfect that got her to this point. And now nothing will ever be the same again because I know you are out there, saving lives. – saving her life. You are a super hero. The world is a better place because you are in it. Thank you, thank you, a THOUSAND TIMES…thank you!