Letters to the Editor

Letters published July 16, 2003

Rage in a Cage Turner's Hall, 7325 Guthrie Avenue 5 p.m. Sunday, July 13. $5 to $15; call 216-476-2397.
The Doctor Isn't In
Doubting Thomas: I just finished reading Sarah Fenske's article about Thomas Kirby ["Silencing Dr. Kirby," July 2]. In May 1995, my husband had a double lung transplant at the Cleveland Clinic. My husband was 47 years old and had been living with primary pulmonary hypertension for more than two years while waiting for a compatible organ match. His lungs and heart (he would eventually have needed a new heart, too) were damaged, and he spent his days with limited strength and full-time use of oxygen.

Richard had his transplant on May 19, 1995, and died on June 16, 1995. Dr. Kirby performed five double lung transplants in the five weeks that my children and I practically lived at CCF. To the best of my recollection, four of these five people passed away within weeks of the surgery. Perhaps this really isn't about incompetence at University Hospital; perhaps Thomas Kirby brought this problem with him. Why did the Cleveland Clinic let this man leave, if he was so great? Thanks for your efforts. I guess we will probably never know the truth.

D. Martin

Death by bureaucratic malevolence: One aspect that was missing from Sarah Fenske's excellent article is the opinion of Dr. Thomas Kirby held by former patients or their families. I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Kirby on Memorial Day, 1993, when he operated on my father at the Cleveland Clinic as part of that hospital's lung-transplantation program.

After performing a six-hour operation, Dr. Kirby informed my mother and me of the results of the procedure. This briefing included his short-term and long-term plan for my father's recovery. Dr. Kirby's demeanor was clipped, if not abrupt. However, my mother and I felt that this cool, professional attitude was reassuring to us during an emotionally vulnerable time in our lives. We trusted his judgment explicitly and respected his decisions for my father's care. Furthermore, despite the complicated nature of the surgery and its aftereffects, Dr. Kirby answered all our questions in a nonpatronizing, sincere manner.

We also found that Dr. Kirby surrounded himself with excellence at the Clinic; the team that Dr. Kirby had assembled -- nurses, social workers, technicians -- was prepared to handle the multitude of issues that arise with organ transplantation. We felt -- and still feel -- that we had the opportunity to interact with perhaps the best lung-transplantation medical staff in the country at that time.

It is a moral crime that Dr. Kirby's medical talents are being wasted by an externally imposed inability to practice his craft. By its own bureaucratic malevolence, University Hospitals is signing the death certificates of an incalculable number of patients who, like my father, could live full, productive lives for several years if Dr. Kirby (and others with his high level of expertise) cared for them at the beginning of the lung-transplantation process. As noted in the article, "Thomas Kirby isn't going away." We should all hope that, for the sake of all potential lung transplant patients in Cleveland, this statement proves true -- fast.

Sarah Manville Gann
Cleveland Heights

Helter Shelter
Talkin' 'bout my gentrification: Kudos to Pete Kotz for his excellent piece ["Stealing Home," June 25] on the problems that gentrification poses for Lakewood and communities across the nation. My heart goes out to the besieged Lakewood residents, and I hope they win their battle and retain ownership of their homes, against the wishes of these developers who see big bucks in gentrification.

There are fine folks in Lakewood, but for a while, a certain snottiness pervaded this community -- call it territorial imperative -- largely leveled against so-called outsiders who didn't seem to fit in. In the end, of course, it is the wealthy cats who see these very same middle-class residents as peons standing in the way of progress. As Kotz pointed out, this is a national trend and is a legacy of the Reagan revolution -- which, in reality, divided the working class against itself, beginning with the air-traffic controllers' strike. Thanks again for a great piece of journalism.

Stanley J. Niemiec

Hail and Farewell
Applause for a member of the Cleveland chapter: I wanted Christine Howey to know how much I appreciated her favorable reviews for both Hello Again ["20th-Century Sex," April 30] and Santaland Diaries ["Daze of Christmas," December 11, 2002].

I have always appreciated her insights, and I love her presentation of them. I agree with her frequently about productions we've both attended. I have often used her opinion to determine my decision to see something, in fact. (Don't let anyone tell her to soften her criticism.)

I will be leaving the area soon for a full-time position at Wichita State University. I guess I am feeling free to contact people to let them know the positive influence they've had on the Cleveland chapter of my life. I wanted to at least say thanks.

Curtis D. Proctor

What Are You, Drunk?
Have a shot: What gives, man? The Plain Dealer [May 18] called The Whiskeyhounds one of the "best bands to ever come from Cleveland," and Scene forgets to include them in their Music Awards '03 Voting Ballot. They play the Grog and The Beachland at least once a month. You need to check them out.

Walter Sobcheck

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