My name is Jeremiah Hasson and I’ve had the unique opportunity to benefit from Spaulding both as a patient and as a member of the Young Professionals Group. My relationship with Spaulding began on July 24, 2013, when I arrived at Spaulding’s Charlestown facility for the first time. I was transferred to Spaulding, after 18 days in Mass General. When I arrived: I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t clean myself, and I could barely move my legs; but exactly three weeks later, thanks to the people of Spaulding, I’d would get up dress myself and walk out the front door – own my own -- well on my way to a full recovery.
The events that led me to Spaulding began on July 6, 2013.
That morning, I woke up at my parent’s cape house in North Falmouth and began preparing to run in the annual Paul White Memorial Road Race. It is a local 5 mile race right through our neighborhood. In our house, the race is a family tradition and the source of bragging rights for the entire year. At that time, I was in the best shape of my life. In May, I had completed a ten-mile race in Philadelphia in under 65 minutes and over Memorial Day weekend I recorded my best half marathon time at Boston’s Run to Remember. So that morning, I was excited for the race; I was looking to run fast and hopefully to earn a spot on the podium. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. I didn’t make the podium, or even see the finish line.
That day was an unusually hot morning, even for July. Somewhere around the four-mile mark, the heat, dehydration and the exertion I was putting on my body caught up to me. I blacked out, ran off course and collapsed in the front yard of some of spectators. Luckily, for me the spectators happened to be a state cop and his wife, a local pediatrician. They recognized immediately that I was in serious trouble. They quickly surrounded me with bags of ice and called 911. Their quick thinking and action saved my life.
I suffered what is known as rhabdomyolysis, which is a rapid breakdown of my skeletal muscles, and when the muscles breakdown, they release a toxin into the bloodstream, which caused my liver and kidneys to shut down. Ultimately, it led to complete kidney failure.
Over the course of the short road race, I had gone from being in my peak physical condition to a point where I could barely move my legs, I need dialysis a three times a week, and I was completely reliant on others to care for me.
This was the state I was in when I was transferred to Spaulding on July 24th 2013. But as I mentioned, I was very fortunate, and with the help of Spaulding’s amazing doctors, nurses and therapists, particularly Sam Conley and Dara Casperian who worked with me and pushed me every day in the gym. I regained my strength and was able to walk out of there - three weeks later – and on the road to a full recovery.
It took another couple months to get back to full strength but once able, I knew I wanted to give back to Spaulding. Given that I had just missed two full months of work and am still paying off school loans, I knew that I couldn’t simply write a huge donation check. So I began looking into other options, which is how I found the Young Professionals Group. It was about this time last year that I became a member.
Personally, my desire to remain involved with Spaulding was based on 3 main factors. First I wanted to say thank you and show my appreciation to the staff of Spaulding - everybody from the doctors, nurses, and the therapists, to those who ran the adaptive sports programs. The value of such programs cannot be overstated. After 2 weeks stuck up in a hospital room, it is incredible what a bike through Charlestown or sailing in Boston Harbor does for the body, mind and spirit. I knew my actions as a volunteer would speak louder than the world of thanks, I had already expressed so many time.
Second, I wanted to stay involved with Spaulding to remind myself how fragile life can be and how lucky I am to be where I am today. In an instant, or over the course of a road race, everything can change. Every time I visit the hospital I am reminded of that fact and thankful to be healthy today.
Third, and most importantly, I wanted to remain involved with Spaulding to help the patients. Every day I spent in Spaulding, I was motivated and amazed by the attitudes and optimism of the patients around me. Throughout the hospital there are a lot of people who have every reason to whine, to mope around, and to wallow in their self-pity, but I rarely ever saw it. The patients I met, many of whom were in far worse condition than I, were always energized, always positive and always working hard to improve their condition. That strength, hope and resolve that was personified by the victims of the marathon bombing is still demonstrated everyday by patients at Spaulding. Their spirit and courage motivated me while I was there, and it continues to inspire me every time I am back as a volunteer.
So for those of you who are new to Spaulding’s YPG, I encourage you: become a member and be an active participant. It is an eye-opening experience to wok with and interact with the incredible patients of Spaulding.
But obviously the volunteering efforts are not strictly for our benefits - the patients love having new young people come in and spend some time with them. Whether its doing arts and crafts with the pediatrics unit, or playing wheelchair volleyball with the older stroke survivors, the patients are so excited to have the young professionals there to interact with and to share their stories with.
I was very lucky during my time in Spaulding. I had a steady stream of friends and family there to keep me company and lift my spirits, but not everyone is as fortunate. Some patients don’t have guests of their own, which is why I think it’s very important to make that extra effort - sacrifice an hour or two a month to be there for someone who may not have anyone else able visit them. They will appreciate it and I know I continue to benefit from these experiences. But if you can’t sacrifice your time, or hopefully in addition to your time, we ask you to spare what money you can and contribute to the YPG’s Leave you Legacy Campaign. Individually, we may not be able to give much, but collectively our donations can have a significant impact on the care and programs offered at Spaulding.
We are in the final year of our “Leave Your Legacy” Campaign with a goal to raise $50,000 for the hospital. For those of you who have already made a contribution, we thank you – I thank you. For others, I hope you will join us in supporting Spaulding.
Thank you for allowing me to share my story with you.