Heroic Gifts to the Shock Trauma Critical Care Tower

George L. Doetsch, Jr.

Welcome to the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland.

My name is George Doetsch, and I am the Chairman of Apple Ford Lincoln in Columbia, Maryland. I have been a supporter of the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center for nearly two decades. I was born and raised in Maryland and I own several businesses in this State.

I have always had an interest in the medical field, though it is not my chosen profession, and I am a strong advocate of ensuring the highest quality of medical care for our community. This has been an essential part of my corporate giving philosophy for as long as I can remember.

I began my affiliation with the University of Maryland Medical System through the Shock Trauma Board of Visitors, as a board member and as vice chairman.

A close friend of mine was involved in a severe automobile accident which nearly claimed her life. The superior life-saving initiatives of the Shock Trauma team and other first-responders saved her life. Her story is nothing short of miraculous, but it is surprisingly, not unique.

I quickly learned that trauma medicine is different from emergency medicine. The cases are profoundly more severe, and without the advanced training, specialized rescue and medical equipment and practiced trauma team coordination, most patients would not survive their traumatic ordeal.

Shock Trauma sets the benchmark for patient care, with a 97% survival rate!

Over the next few years, I attended several Shock Trauma Galas, which are the institution’s primary fundraising vehicle. This is where I learned more about “the Golden Hour”, the critical first 60 minutes of medical care when life or death hangs by a thread.

I heard the heroic stories of people who had undergone some of the most horrific injuries ever imagined and survived, despite overwhelming odds against them, all due to the impressive work of the trauma team.

I became involved with the mission of Shock Trauma Center at a deeper level at that point, coming to understand that this “Golden Hour” and the supreme medical expertise needed to pull these miracles off each and every day, comes at a price.

I wanted to do more, so I enlisted the talents of my family and business associates to design and implement a series of annual fundraisers we called, “The Drive to Survive”.

Each year we identified a specific piece of equipment on the Shock Trauma “wish list” and worked closely with the philanthropy department to meet a fundraising goal in order to purchase a particular item or fund a specific program identified by the institution.

Our initiatives were very successful and we raised in excess of $1 million for Shock Trauma. To this day, my family, friends and business associates are still actively involved in supporting the life-saving services provided at this hospital.

I have told you all about my philanthropic involvement with Shock Trauma, but not my complete story; perhaps the most ironic thing of all is that my life was saved here at Shock Trauma in 2005!

In all my years of association with this institution, I had never hoped, imagined or even thought for one moment that I would require the services of the trauma center myself.

I own a thoroughbred horse farm in Howard County, and I frequently ride my horses. On one particular afternoon, I met with misfortune and suffered a head trauma while riding one of my horses.

I was airlifted to Shock Trauma, where, upon recovering consciousness, I was met by my long-time friend and associate, Dr. Tom Scalea.

He asked me what I was doing here, and I asked him the same thing. We can laugh about it together now, but at the time, he certainly did not expect to see one of his board members on the helipad, arriving at Shock Trauma.

I quickly recovered from my horseback riding accident with only minor injuries and I was released to return home. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen medical complications from my head injury, I suffered a severe stroke when a blood clot traveled through my body and lodged in the left side of my brain. This happened about ten days after my accident.

I was transported back to Shock Trauma, this time by ambulance, and awoke from a coma several days later. I had arrived at Shock Trauma in very bad shape. I was told by the physician attending to me, my friend Dr. Clifford Turen, that I had to be revived by him through CPR.

Fortunately I have no recollection of the details. I just know that without Shock Trauma and the team that saved my life, I would not be here today.

What I do recall clearly, was awakening once again at Shock Trauma and again talking with Dr. Scalea. This time the prognosis was less hopeful.

I was told that I might never walk or talk again, or worse, I was still at risk for another stroke.

The next days and weeks would be difficult. I knew I was not out of the woods but I had a reassuring sense of calmness and trust, knowing that I was in the very best of care, in the very best Trauma Center in the United States, maybe even the world.

My recovery was not easy. It took time for me to learn to walk again and talk again and to recover all of the skills I had before my stroke.

Here I am today, telling you my own personal story, in my own words, serving as a living testimony of the gold standard of care delivered here at Shock Trauma.

I can only imagine how many people have come through these doors since my time here. I know the fear and uncertainty that you may be feeling. I have been there and I have lived through it myself. I have friends who have been patients here too and my own mother received care in this medical center.

The R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center has had a profound impact on my life. I can only offer you my personal testimony that you will without any doubt receive the best of all possible care here.

I have continued my legacy of giving to this medical institution, as expressed on this Heroic Gifts Wall, and through my ongoing involvement with the Board of Visitors, through continuous sponsorship of fundraising activities and by my personal advocacy of the University of Maryland Medical System.

I will continue to encourage people to support the life-giving initiatives of Shock Trauma, because like me, you never know when you might find yourself or a family member here, in a critical situation, with the minutes passing by of that “Golden Hour”.

I hope that trauma never touches your family, but if it has – this is the critical care facility where you want to be without a doubt!

I am fortunate to be a survivor and I am honored to share my story with you. I salute all of the men and women engaged in saving lives here every day!

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