Kelly Zabilka - Dr. Marga's July 2009 Mermaid of the Month

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Kelly Kabilka

Dear Dr. Massey,

I promise I'm not stalking you. I did do a little research to find you and I simply want to thank you and update you on my son's last 15 years.

15 years ago today, you were a resident (I think) at Duke in the summer of 1994 when our son, Nicholas, was admitted to the PICU following a car accident. To help you remember, he was the one who came in and everyone thought he had a "Bobby Hurley" injury…you did an exploratory scope process (or something like that) and found that he did NOT have one of those…I remember you saying that you were at the movies seeing Forrest Gump with your mother when you were paged. You and everyone else at Duke didn't think he'd live. He did. The prognosis we received upon leaving the hospital was grim. We left for home in Kansas and didn't adjust very well. We had daily visits to physical therapists and weekly visits to the pulmonologist in Kansas City. We emigrated to Kentucky in November of '94 where we had lots of friends and family for support and have been here ever since.

The extreme physical, mental and academic problems doctors predicted for Nick's future in 1994 never came to be. Nick has been extremely successful in school and graduated from high school on June 5 with honors. He never needed any special services and has completed an honors/AP Pre-College curriculum. He took a total of 5 AP courses and 3 dual-credit college courses. He graduated with a gpa of 3.83. He finished fifth in his graduating class of 220. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by what he has achieved.

In addition to success with academics, Nick became a cross-country runner. Even though he still has major scar tissue and reduced breath sounds in his lungs and struggles with some fairly severe asthma, he runs. He's been running since 7th grade and has been a Kentucky state meet qualifier for three out of four years in high school.

I guess it sounds like I'm bragging. I probably am. I am very proud of him. What I want you to know is that it is due, at least in part, to you and your efforts. It looks as if you no longer practice the same sort of medicine and I'm sure you are fantastic at what you do. We are aware that the nature of your attention and treatment of our son was well above and beyond the call of duty. We have kept in touch with the firefighter that performed CPR on Nick on the side of the highway and the LifeFlight nurse who continued to check on him while he was in the hospital.

I really don't want to bother you but want you to know that Nick's story has a happy ending. I remember asking one of the nurses in the PICU how she could stand working with children who were suffering every day and her answer was: "because they get better and go home." I wanted to make sure you know that Nick got better and has had a fabulous life so far.

Nick will be entering Murray State University in Murray Kentucky this fall and plans to become a Veterinarian. If he is a successful applicant in 4 years, he would like to go to Auburn for Vet School. If you like, I can continue to keep you posted on his progress. I promise I won't wear you out with it!

Thank you again for everything you did for us and for Nick. You are in my thoughts always. I've attached a few photos of Nick from the past year so you can see how he has grown and has had a wonderful life because of you. He runs, laughs, loves music, went to prom, took a family trip to the Czech Republic and graduated. There were days when we didn't think those things would ever happen.

Kelly Zabilka

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