Some Good News: Doctor Breaks World Record; A Hospital Wedding

Nat Harper

March 28, 2022

Reading the news — especially lately — is a daunting task. Sometimes it's best to take a break from the onslaught of negative headlines flickering across our screens. Sometimes it's even better to seek out glimmers of hope and happiness that may have gone unnoticed in the wake of more breaking news.

For this reason, Medscape compiled a handful of stories healthcare professionals may have missed last month that are certain to remind them about the good in the world and the reasons why it's important to look out for one another.

Honoring Humanitarian Paul Farmer's Memory

Paul Farmer, MD, PhD, infectious disease expert and co-founder of the Boston-based global nonprofit organization, Partners in Health, passed away at the age of 62 in February while teaching abroad in Rwanda. Although his death is certainly something to mourn, it's the way he lived his life, his legacy, that sparks joy.

Farmer dedicated his life to aiding underprivileged communities, beginning with summer volunteer work in Haiti when he was a college student. He was the chair of Global Health and Social Medicine at the Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School. George Q. Daly, the dean of Harvard Medical School, said Farmer represented the "heart and soul of Harvard Medical School" in a letter to the students announcing his sudden passing.

Farmer's nonprofit helped tackle massive health and humanitarian crises all over the globe, from the 2010 earthquake in Haiti to the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. A colleague of Farmer's, Pardis Sabeti, said that one of Farmer's greatest strengths as a doctor was in treating patients "not like ones who suffered but like a pal you'd joke with." Farmer's life work highlights the power that driven individuals can have on a massive scale. If you ever ask, "Well, what can I do?," think, "What would Paul Farmer do?"

California Doctor Breaks World Record for Tallest 3D-Printed Statue

It's not every day that world records get broken.

Emergency medicine physician Vinson Eugene Allen, MD, from Gardena, California, recently got to hold the plaque for his very own. According to Guinness World Records, Allen broke the record for the tallest 3D-printed sculpture of a human ever created.

The 1500-pound statue was shipped in 45 parts from its printer in Minnesota to California to be assembled. All in all, it took a team of nine people 12 weeks to get the Statue of Inspiration, as Allen calls it, to stand 19 feet, 10 inches tall. The project started when Allen built his first 3D sculpture, the image of a doctor, to stand on a billboard to advertise his urgent care centers.

Realizing his original design didn't meet the requirements for a world record, he decided to give it another try, this time with a specific target in mind. Allen smiled and pumped his fist in the air as confetti rained around him as he accepted his World Record plaque during Black History Month, a feat he said meant so much to the community that he serves.

Physician Advocates for the Healing Power of Music

When Larry Birger, MD, a hospitalist at Samaritan Hospital in Washington, DC, spoke to the Columbia Basin Herald about the healing power of music, he intended to be vague because "it can manifest in so many different ways."

Birger, who has always had a love of music, said he felt healed by his guitar and kinship with other musicians during a hard time in his life in 2017. He wanted to help spread that feeling and founded Learn From the Masters Music Outreach. The organization makes free instructional videos for any budding musicians who may not have other opportunities to explore their musical interests.

Birger has big plans for Learn From the Masters Music Outreach, including more free concerts, school visits, and partnering with long-term care and hospice organizations. In both his personal and professional life, Birger is dedicated to helping people feel the best about themselves, with medicine and with music.

An Impromptu Hospital Wedding

The chicest new wedding venue? For one couple, it's a hospital chapel.

Vicky Abarca and Jason Thedford of Harnett County, North Carolina, are expecting their first child in April, but recent complications with Vicky's pregnancy put her in the hospital a week before their wedding, according to local television station WTVD.

The nursing staff at the University of North Carolina's Rex's Women's Center, drained from the last 2 years of COVID-19, knew that a wedding was just the joyous occasion both the staff and the couple needed.

Luckily, Labor and Delivery Manager Megan Dunston happened to be an ordained minister and officiated the ceremony. Dunston is likely to be there to deliver the couple's baby next month as well.

As soon as their son is born, they're planning on having their originally planned wedding at Lake Johnson.

"People that we just met cared, and they went above and beyond for us," Abarca told the station. "It's an amazing feeling that I can't explain."

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