When Lieselle Shield, general manager of UCT Private Academic Hospital (UCTPAH) in Cape Town, received a telephone call from a former patient asking if he could host a party for all the doctors, nurses, staff members and patients at the hospital, her interest was immediately piqued.
She listened in amazement as Philip Hoole, a 61-year-old man from George in the Western Cape, recounted the story of how he was ‘reborn’ at the hospital 10 years ago after undergoing surgery for a cerebral bleed of the brain that almost cost him his life. Hoole’s call to Shield was to make good on the promise he made to himself at the time, that if he survived he would return to celebrate his ‘10th birthday’ and give thanks to staff and doctors at the hospital who gave him a new chance at life.
Only too happy to accommodate this unusual request, Shield immediately set the wheels in motion for a 10th birthday party with a difference. Hoole’s birthday bash was a big affair with not a single staff member, doctor, patient or visitor excluded from the event.
During the function, Hoole, who was on occasion so overcome by emotion that he had to be helped out by his son, read out a heart warming letter to the teary-eyed audience, in which he recounted his ordeal, expressing his deepest gratitude to the doctors, staff members and hospital for saving his life. He also offered a message of hope to other patients in similar circumstances.
“Today when I woke up, I leapt out of bed, crying and laughing at the same time. ‘TEN, I’m TEN!’ I shouted, because today is the 10th anniversary of the day you saved my life,” he told his audience.
Ten years ago, Hoole had to have neurosurgery where surgeons successfully contained the bleeding in his brain and repaired the broken vessel. After weeks in the intensive care unit, followed by rehabilitation, Hoole was eventually able to go home to continue his recovery.
“Back then, lying in bed, wondering about the wreck that I had become, I made a promise to myself that if I ever survived long enough to see a 10th anniversary, I would come back and celebrate the day you saved my life with you all,” said Hoole.
“When I was admitted to the hospital, I was a broken man with tubes and needles sticking in and out of me but you fixed me, you blew life back into the deflated old bag of bones that was me and sent me on my way again,” he added. He likened the hospital and its staff members to a hand that dropped a pebble into a pond, thereby creating ripples in the water that spread ever outwards, positively touching and impacting the lives of others.
Hoole, who is a professional in the construction industry in the George and the Garden Route area, believes that his second chance at life created a ripple effect because he was able to continue his work in helping to design schools, university buildings and houses for the people who call the area home. Thus, enabling him to positively impacting countless lives and generations to come.
Hoole recalled some of the meaningful experiences he has had because of his new lease on life. These include walking his daughter down the aisle when she got married, comforting his wife when her parents sadly passed on and holding his precious grandchildren.
“Doctors, nurses and hospital staff must know how special the work is that they do and how important they are to those who are lucky enough to pass through their hands. Even though some of you here today are not the same people who were with me a decade ago, to me, you are the same people in heart and spirit,” asserted Hoole.
“In the 10 years since Mr Hoole was discharged from hospital, we have seen a few staff members come and go, but, as he so poignantly puts it, our purpose and reason for being remains true; to save lives and give people the opportunity to celebrate many more birthdays,” says Shield.
“I think Mr Hoole’s story serves as a reminder to the doctors, nurses and staff at the hospital that their work does not necessarily end when they sign the discharge papers.
The valuable contribution they make towards saving people’s lives endures in the hearts and minds of the patients whose lives they touch on a daily basis, just like Mr Hoole’s ‘ripples in a pond’,” concludes Shield.
Issued by: Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of UCT Private Academic Hospital
Contact: Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Sarah Beswick or Jillian Penaluna
Telephone: (011) 469 3016
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