This morning, I was privileged to participate in a ceremony honoring the service and memory of six heroes who lost their lives five years ago today.
On that day – June 4, 2007 – I was still in Indiana, but I remember hearing the news about the University of Michigan transplant and Survival Flight team that didn’t make it home from their life-saving journey across Lake Michigan. I felt a special connection to the story not only because I am a physician, but because my late husband, Mark, was a transplant surgeon. He and his team – as well as transplant and medical aircraft teams across the nation – mourned with Michigan on that tragic day.
Five years ago, the UMHS community came together in grief, sadness and disbelief. Today, we came together once again to remember and honor six extraordinary men whose legacies inspire us each and every day.
David Ashburn, Richard Chenault, Dennis Hoyes, Ricky LaPensee, Bill Serra and Martin Spoor will never be forgotten – they will forever remain in our thoughts and in our hearts. We will think of them when we look at the memorial art piece that was commissioned in their honor and now stands at the front of University Hospital. We remember them through the six endowments the University created in their honor. And we think of them with each life saved by an organ transplant.
Having since suffered a devastating loss myself – the death of my husband, Mark, more than a year ago – I understand the shattering effect tragedy can have on one’s life and one’s family. That’s why I want all of the family members to know that your extended Health System family continues to be here for you whenever you need us.
And to those of you who lost beloved colleagues on that heartbreaking June day, remember that through your work, you keep their extraordinary legacies alive and strong.
We can never replace loved ones who die too soon, but we can live each day after in tribute to them, and to the immense love and joy they brought to so many others.