Patient Stories

Oregon City man thanks Legacy staff for saving his life

July 25, 2022

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You might call Gary MacDuffee a frequent flyer at Legacy Health. The 84-year-old Oregon City resident has had all 10 of his endoscopies performed at Legacy hospitals, with nine of them at Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center. The procedures have made him a big fan of Legacy’s staff.

Gary’s appreciation grew even deeper this spring following hernia surgery at Legacy Good Samaritan. His surgeon, Daniel Bradley, MD, of the Oregon Clinic, was in the hospital parking lot following the surgery when he got a phone call. Gary, who moments ago was talking with him, suffered a heart attack.

Months later, Gary is regaining his strength and recently delivered $1,800 worth of $100 Spaghetti Factory gift cards to thank everyone who saved his life.

“The people at Legacy, all of their sites, are super,” Gary said. “This is an experience you don’t want to have go through, but when you have people who are as pleasant as they are at Legacy, it helps you heal.”

The forgotten days

The first call Mary MacDuffee Erhart, Gary’s daughter, received from Dr. Bradley was routine. Dad was headed to recovery and doing fine. The second call, which came 90 minutes later, was grim. The crash team spent 20 minutes doing chest compressions and used a defibrillator to restart his heart.

“He said it was bad and very dangerous,” Mary said.

Gary spent the next 11 days in ICU and intermediate ICU rooms. His memory of that time is nothing more than snippets. A nurse singing in Portuguese took him back to the days he owned a furniture business and he frequently traveled to Brazil for supplies.

He remembers Mary asking his wife, Ginger, whether they’d been married 63 or 64 years. Ginger couldn’t remember, but Gary managed to hold up a hand with four fingers.

Most profound was a dream. He was slowly walking by a cemetery past four headstones. The first three headstones were blank. As he passed the fourth, he noticed the inscription – Gary Robert MacDuffee, March 26, 1938. Then the script fell to the ground.

“I took that as a message from God that he has more plans for me,” Gary said.

Giving thanks

Gary initially wanted to invite all his caregivers to a banquet, but it became apparent the logistics of trying to line up so many schedules was nearly impossible. A big fan of the Old Spaghetti Factory, Gary thought the gift cards were a nice alternative and allowed the recipients to take their families. He worked closely with Scott Erickson in Human Resources to make sure the doctors, nurses and others could receive the cards.

“I had to do something to show my appreciation for all of the staff members who cared for me,” Gary said.

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