by Nicholas Wendt
My mother put her head into her hands as the doctor spoke to her in hushed tones. “Not my son!” she thought. At first, all the people who knew about it wished my mom and our family the best of luck, but as time went by, even those closest to us shaded their well wishes with a hint of doubt. Most of them couldn’t imagine the journey my family, my doctors and I were about to embark on: I was born with severe combined immune deficiency (SCID). Also known as bubble boy disease, SCID left my infant body ravaged by even the slightest viral presence. This condition is something that will burden me for the remainder of my life, but my salvation was Dr. Rebecca Buckley.
Dr. Buckley is a dedicated expert who always has a bright smile gracing her appearance and a Southern accent on her words. She cares profoundly about every person who comes into her office, and thousands more around the world have had their lives touched by her skilled hands. I honestly don’t remember the first time we met, but that’s because I was quite young. I've no doubt, though, that at that time, she had the same effect on me as she did when I met her later in life. Bugging my mother relentlessly for answers about this mysterious black cloud that seemed to hang over me for much of my childhood, she ultimately presented me with the story of how my guardian angel came into my life and, quite realistically, saved it.
Sniffling and misty-eyed, my mother regaled me with her simultaneously heart-warming and heart-wrenching tale: As the doctors at Long Island Jewish Hospital gravely told her there was a significant chance I would not make it past 2 years of age, a kindhearted doctor, whom we later became very close with, whispered knowingly: “If it were my son, I would take him to Duke under the care of Dr. Buckley.” This Dr. Lagabo gave my mother, and in turn, myself, what was the greatest advice either of us had ever received. So down we went, to the heat and humidity of North Carolina to Duke University, to meet Dr. Buckley.
Promptly after we arrived, Dr. Buckley and her associates arranged for an urgent bone marrow transplant for me. A bone marrow transplant is quite dangerous for the donor, who was my mother, but a rather painless intravenous drip for the “lucky” recipient, and I won the prize. With dexterous and wise hands, Dr. Buckley saved my life completely, and did her absolute best to make my mother’s beautiful sacrifice as painless as possible. My family and I will forever be in the debt of this amazing and inspiring woman. And, even though I do not get to see her as often as I would like, my family still keeps in email contact with her, and she rightfully has the final say on most of my serious medical conditions.
This story has a very happy ending. Today, I am a rather rakish young man of 16, and every day, I dedicate a thought or two to the kind, brilliant Southern belle who saved my life and my family’s livelihood for decades to come. I will always be completely in her debt, and I will always have a very special place in my heart for the newest inductee to the National Board of Sciences (congratulations!). Thank you so much, Dr. Buckley. I honestly and sincerely promise that I will make the absolute most out of my life in order to honor the gift that you and my mother worked so hard to provide for me.