Todd Frazier has been involved in the happenings of the Texas Medical Center since he was a child. His father, O.H. “Bud” Frazier, M.D., has been a heart surgeon in the medical center for over 45 years and Todd has been everywhere with him, from the operating room to his lab.
Today, Todd is the director of the Center for Performing Art Medicine at Houston Methodist Hospital. Because of his exposure to the heart transplant field and his musical background, Todd was inspired to compose an opera documenting the journey heart transplant patients, families and doctors take.
In his youth, Todd met several patients, surgeons, residents and nurses and realized that in order for something like a heart transplant to work, all of these people are forced to take a leap of faith.
“My father performed heart transplants more than anything and that process was inspiring to me because the fact that you can just sew someone’s heart in and bring new life was just incredible to me,” said Todd. “It was a leap of faith, science, anatomy and had a very palpable spiritual side to it.”
The opera, “Breath of Life” tells the stories of those involved in the process of a heart transplant and what they are going through. The story is based around a man who is in need of a heart transplant, though he does not feel that he deserves a new heart and, essentially, a second chance at life. Through receiving a heart, it is obvious that someone else has to lose theirs in a very tragic way. The guilt that many heart transplant recipients feel is not uncommon.
Brian received a heart transplant from Houston Methodist Hospital in 2008 after having heart complications his entire life. When he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure in 2004, he was told he needed a transplant.
“When I was first told I needed a transplant, I was totally against it,” said Brian. “First of all, I have no problem going to join my son [who died in 2000], and secondly, I didn’t want a heart to be taken from someone and given to me that could be used on someone younger than me–obviously if I could trade places with my son today, I would.”
Todd shares the stories of the donor’s family trying to make sense of what has just happened to their daughter and if organ donation is the right thing to do. He also shows a Japanese resident who is struggling with her own spiritual beliefs about taking a heart from a living being and if it will impact her afterlife.
In the second act, there is a moment when the heart has been taken out of the patient and his blood has been stopped to receive the new heart. The donor and the recipient share a moment together that is suspended in time.
“The scene humanizes interface between the two people,” said Todd. “They get to know one another and only in that interaction, the donor charging the patient to live out their life, does the heart start to beat again.”
In the end, everyone has taken a leap of faith to bring new life to not only the patient, but also the donor, because her heart lives on in him.
About 10 years ago, Todd began developing “Breath of Life” in an effort to bring the medical center and the arts community together. In the process he met Gerald Dolter, the Director of Texas Tech music theater.
After years of collaboration, Todd and Dolter were able to bring “Breath of Life” to Texas Tech. The opera was performed twice this September.
“My hope with the opera was to bring this extraordinary story of advancements in science and the human condition being challenged out of the medical center and bring it to the general public,” said Todd. We hope to bring “Breath of Life” to more cities to bring the arts and science communities together and I would certainly love to have it here in Houston,” said Todd.
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After a surprise diagnosis at age 36, Paula Carrillo finds success with overcoming stage 2A #colorectalcancer with Dr. Michael Overman: https://t.co/iVnpQGygSR #CancerMoonshot #endcancer
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Two of the graduate education programs at Cizik School of Nursing at UTHealth were ranked among the highest in the nation in the just-released 2020 edition of the Best Graduate Schools guide by U.S. News and World Report.
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Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Aida Nancy Sanchez. Aida served during the Vietnam War from 1952 to 1976.Aida was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico in November 1931. She graduated at the age of 15 and won a scholarship to attend St. Mary of the Woods College in Indiana. She graduated in 1952 with a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry. Upon graduation, she applied and was accepted into the army physical therapy school program with an age waiver due to being under 21 at the time. Aida then headed to Fort Sam Houston, Texas to attend and graduate from the program in 1953. This is where she also met then General Dwight Eisenhower. Afterwards, she was assigned to the Brooke Army Medical Centre at Fort Sam Houston then to Fitzsimmons Army General Hospital in Denver, Colorado around 1956. During this assignment, Aida met President Eisenhower when he came to visit his friend whom was her patient. She stated that he remembered her from the physical therapy school and sent a pot of stew he made a day or two after the visit.After she completed her assignment at Fitzsimmons, she was sent to Rodriguez Army Hospital in Puerto Rico until she was discharged from active duty and went into the army reserves for two years. During that time, Aida worked for the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital in Hines, Illinois for a year before becoming the Director of the Bureau of Crippled Children within the Department of Health of Puerto Rico. During her time in Puerto Rico, she received a letter from the Department of Defense stating that they needed more physical therapists, so she decided to return to active duty. Her first assignment was the burn unit at Brooke Army Medical Center, then she was sent to Fort Bragg, North Carolina for a year or two. Afterwards, Aida was sent to Fort Myer, Virginia to establish a physical therapy clinic within the Andrew Rader Clinic at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Once setting up the unit, Aida was sent to graduate school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and upon graduation was assigned to Letterman Army Medical Center to oversee the clinical affiliations of five universities located near the hospital.Aida’s next assignment was to become the assistant chief of physical therapy at the Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii before she received orders to deploy in support of the Vietnam War in 1970. She was originally sent to the Army hospital in Saigon to replace the physical therapist but was routed to the 95th Evacuation Hospital near Da Nang to establish the first physical therapy clinic within the hospital. During her tour of duty, Aida was extended to deploy to Cambodia and assist then President Lon Nol because she had previously helped him during his stay at the Tripler Army Medical Center. She was constantly flying back and forth between Vietnam and Cambodia to help the president get physically better. She assisted many American and Cambodian soldiers and citizens with their physical therapy needs while deployed. After Aida redeployed, she was sent to Fort Gordon as the chief physical therapist who oversaw the transfer of the physical therapy clinic from older barracks into the newly built Eisenhower Army Medical Center. It took about six years to complete the task and Aida retired as a Lieutenant Colonel shortly after with about 24 years of service.Thank you for your service, Aida!