Dr. Stephen Kimmel was just one of the many victims of Hurricane Harvey, as his house was flooding with water. However, when he heard that a teen needed emergency surgery, he instantly shifted his focus toward helping the young man in the hospital.
The doctor had to get to the hospital at all costs, and managed to get there with a canoe.
The flood water was too high for a trip by car, but that clearly didn’t stop Stephen Kimmel from reaching the hospital.
The man works as a general pediatric surgeon at Clear Lake Regional Medical Center in Webster and was notified by a telephone call that 16-year-old Jacob Terrazas was in peril. He needed surgery urgently and would have faced permanent damage if the doctor didn’t make it in time.
The doctor recently spoke with CNN about his brave journey to the hospital. He tried to get there with his car, but quickly realized he couldn’t get through and headed back. After notifying the hospital, a local volunteer fire department was willing to help Stephen out. Two volunteer firefighters knocked on his door with a canoe, to make sure he would get to the hospital despite the flooding.
“So we ran through the flooded streets and it was pretty windy and rainy,” Stephen said to CNN. “We went by canoe and then by (a firefighter’s) pickup truck and by canoe again. And I felt that these guys knew what they were doing, so I didn’t worry about myself at all the whole time.”
The whole journey took about an hour, where a trip under normal circumstances would only take a ten-minute drive. He had to walk the last mile to the hospital in waist-high water, but nothing could stop him from reaching that hospital.
“Somebody had to take care of this young man, and so I thought, well if I can do it, I certainly should,” he recalls. “He was on the way to our institution and I’m glad I was able to make it.”
The entire situation definitely scared the 16-year old patient, as he was suffering from testicular torsion and didn’t know if he could undergo surgery. His trip to the hospital was a difficult one due to Harvey as well.
“We had to get out and I was kind of lost, but tired,” he said. “One of the paramedics carried me to the side of the highway and after that we waited for a little bit. It was raining, my mom, my sisters they were just standing there wet. I was getting wet, cold. We were all cold. And we waited for a truck to get here and we got in the truck and left the paramedics, and after that we went to the fire department, I think, and we waited for a big truck to get there and once the truck got there, we all went in there,” Jacob said.
The encounter between doctor and patient was quite funny, as Dr. Kimmel was dressed normally and wasn’t in his regular attire.
“It was kind of weird because I got there and I didn’t know who was the doctor because I thought he was just like some, I don’t know, just some dude,” he said. “That’s what my mom thought, too. And once he told me I was like ‘oh, OK.”
Jacob is incredibly thankful that the doctor overcame the flooding to perform surgery on him. According to CNN, he is “relieved from the pain” and is “feeling way much better.”
“It’s really a privilege to be able to take care of pediatric surgical patients and, you know, it’s a very fulfilling day I have every day. It’s great to take care of kids and see them get better,” the doctor said.
As for the doctor’s home, he mentions that his family was rescued safely by the Coast Guard and the water damage is limited.
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