His own heart may not beating anymore, but the heart of the man who he saved, is working without any problem. Polish Zbigniew Religa heart surgeon and patient Tadeusz Zitkevits, have a really unique link, as we see in the picture through the <<National Geographic>>.
The watchful eye of a doctor, next to his patient, even after 23 hours of surgery, caused thrilled those who saw it and those who rightly decided to include the photo in the list of 100 best photographs published in history the magazine.
Today the doctor is no longer alive, but his patient care to remind every opportunity benefaction of faithfully following the adage that says “if I benefited, never forget. If a benefactor, never remember. “
It was just a difficult surgery. It was an impossible operation. Yet, the Polish surgeon Zbigniew Religa decided to take over. The scientist who in 1985 performed the first heart transplant surgery in Poland, as Head of Cardiovascular Surgery Clinic in Zabrze, wanted to take personal salvation 61chronou then Tadeusz Zitkevits, which no doctor agree to surgery because of advanced age.
It was in August 1987 when the graft was found suitable. Without wasting time, the Religka informed the patient of the surgery was scheduled immediately. At the end of that day was spotted by American photographer James Lee Stanfilnt. The envoy magazine «National Geographic» seeking a photo illustrating the decline in the health sector of the country after the end of Soviet intervention.
After 23 hours in the operating room, staff shortages and sophisticated machinery, the sleepless Religa stood guard beside his patient, anxiously watching the progress of the health of the monitors that were connected.
The lens Stanfilnt not focused only on the restless gaze dedicated physician and the patient, who struggled to stay alive with the help of machines outdated technology. He did, however include the frame and a depleted assistant surgeon, who could not stand and fell asleep in a corner of the theater.
“In this era you need more than just a nice picture. You need information” has the characteristics Stanfilnt comment for this download stressing that “each element adds dimension and drama to the photo and helps narrate a story“. And the story in this case had a happy ending, because the next day the patient recovered and feeling healthier than ever. The most Religa sighed with relief, and after the second heart transplant was completed successfully.
Nobody thought then that his heart would Religa that would betray him first. The Polish surgeon excelled in the field of transplantation the ’90s, and in 2004 was awarded for the development of an implantable pump to support cardiac function.
The maniac smoker who served as Minister of Health
Alongside the scientific activity and chased career in politics. Indeed arrived in 2005 to run in the presidential elections. Although he lost, he remained at the forefront, serving Health Minister of Poland from 2005 until 2007. He didn’t have the opportunity to put candidate in elections again. After the 2009 event lung cancer was the reason to prematurely cut the thread of his life. Although he knew as a doctor the dangers of smoking a cigarette, he was a maniac smoker. When the disease is detected, it was already at a very advanced stage.
The funeral was held at the cemetery for non Catholics as the Religa declared atheist, broadcast live on television. Attending the ceremony was both the photographer, Stanfilnt and the 88-year-old Zitkevits Tadeusz, who holds as an amulet the photo through the surgery with the doctor-hero at his side.
Credits: Afrodite Raftopoulou