You could say Cardiothoracic Surgeon Dr. Steven Goldberg's career began as an infant.
"I actually had heart surgery as an infant and I always grew up with it," said Goldberg in a Le Bonheur YouTube video, "When I was a little kid my parents told me the story of how a surgeon saved my life, so I wanted to do the same thing and give kids another shot at a normal life."
Goldberg's colleagues at Le Bonheur's Heart Institute said his connection with pediatric cardiac patients was unlike any surgeon they knew.
"He could characteristically open his shirt and show them his scar. He would say, ‘You see, I've got a scar just like you're going to have, and look how well I am. I'm a heart surgeon and doctor, so there's nothing that you can't do in life if you want to,'" said colleague Dr. Chris Knott-Craig, Chief of Pediatric Cardiac Surgery.
"Sure people have illnesses," recalled another colleague of Goldberg Dr. Rush Waller, Director of Cardiac Cauterization Lab, "But this was he was really unique in having gone through congenital heart surgery and having it be his dream to become a congenital heart surgeon."
Goldberg passed away in August after a year-long battle with cancer that took him from Memphis to Texas hospitals. While his passing leaves a hole at Le Bonheur, his legacy keeps the hospital's Heart Institute beating.
"One of the reasons we recruited him was to help us start the transplant program, and so he and a couple other doctors went through all the paperwork and interviews with the transplant organizations to get us to that point," said Waller.
Waller describes Goldberg as a team player in an area where teamwork is vital. His greatest role, Waller recalled, was as an educator with a unique talent of illustrating the surgeries.
"He not only did the surgery but he could depict the surgery in forms of diagrams that other people that weren't so familiar could understand," said Knott-Craig, "He used to get the young doctors together and say, ‘What subject would you like to learn about today?' And his knowledge spanned so wide that irrespective of what they chose, he could give an hour or hour-and-a-half lecture with diagrams and stuff."
Goldberg drew pictures for his patients, illustrated two cardiac atlases, volunteered at Le Bonheur's Cardiac Kids Camp: His passion for helping in this arena truly came from the heart.
"He also was a great teacher for the nursing staff and for the fellows, and the way in which he taught was just in such a great way," said Waller, "We can't replace that. That's just not possible."
Goldberg leaves behind his wife and seven-year-old son. Goldberg's father called FOX 13 and said throughout his son's stay at hospitals for cancer treatments, he was only concerned about burdening his family and patients.
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