Gus Velez

October 21, 2009

I write you today because in 2002 I was a young man with a promising future as a financial analyst and an upcoming marriage. Then I was dealt a terrible blow that will change my entire life.

I had an inflamed colon and agreed to undergo “minimally invasive” surgery to correct it. It was supposed to be “routine.” I would be in and out in a few days. But the doctor made a horrible blunder. During the surgery the doctor sewed up my aorta, the main artery in my body, stopping blood flow to both of my legs. As a result of that catastrophic error, both legs had to be amputated above the knee.

In medical terms it was an aortic transection with resultant bilateral transfemoral amputation. Translated, that means I have lost two legs and am confined to a wheelchair. What happened to me can be said in one sentence, but the implications of that event fill pages.

My fiance has become the main breadwinner. I want to work again but I doubt if I will be able to do more than part time for quite awhile. This physical therapy is a lot harder than anything I did on the rugby field. The pain is ongoing and at times excruciating.

This didn’t just impact me and my fiance. My entire family has been affected. My brother and sister had a restaurant that my father had financially committed to. When the focus of the family became my disability and needs, they closed the restaurant and they all suffered financially. But they also got pretty depressed because they wanted to help me, to change the outcome of what had happened to me, and of course, they could not.

I need to tell people what happened to me because I want the public to know that we have healthcare professionals who are incompetent and a system that fails to do anything about it.