Heroic Gifts to the Shock Trauma Critical Care Tower

Senator Frank & Janet Kelly

Hello everybody. I’m Frank Kelly and behind me is my wife Janet of 55 years. She’s my best friend, business partner and actually co-founder of our business. And together we’ve been working closely with Shock Trauma for over 40 years.

I was privileged to serve in the Maryland Senate. One of the first people I met after I was elected was R Adams Cowley, the founder of Shock Trauma.

I had the privilege of serving three terms and twelve years. I was fortunate to sponsor the bill that set up the Shock Trauma Center and also chaired the committee that took the helicopter system and made it statewide and upgraded it.

Having worked with Dr. Cowley every day, I fell in love with Shock Trauma and his genius. He was at thoracic surgeon, who during the war, would operate on victims of wartime injuries. He fixed everything he could see, but three days later the patient would die. He couldn’t understand why that was happening.

So after the war, he came to the University of Maryland and set up his shop here at the University of Maryland, Baltimore and they called it the “death lab”. He had an assistant by the name of Liz Scanlon, who was a nurse, and the two of them together built Shock Trauma.

What they learned was, when a human being is a victim of traumatic injury, the human body starts to shut down and goes through a process called shock. If that process isn’t turned around in the first hour, the patient would die.

He also learned that, since they didn’t have the x-ray equipment that they have today and the technology equipment that they have today, he would actually do a belly tap, they called it a belly tap, and cut people open so he could make sure the organs were all okay. Because many times the pancreas would be disturbed and people would die because they didn’t fix it.

He did other controversial things like putting everybody on a lung machine whether they needed it or not.

But the biggest thing he found what was we call “The Golden Hour” that you have to treat shock immediately. Out of that, the Shock Trauma System was created: the need for helicopters to get patients to the hospital within that golden hour and I was privileged to work with him in that whole process. He was a genius and as a result, here at the University of Maryland, the Shock Trauma Center is the finest trauma center in the world.

Mrs. Kelly: I think you can tell by Frank’s words, that this is his passion. Shock Trauma is indeed his passion. And as a result, it has become my passion as well to support him and to be on board when things are being done, fundraising, philanthropy and it’s also the passion of our family.

We have twenty-two grandchildren and we know how important it is to have Shock Trauma in our state. We thank God every day for the ability. We have friends who call every day and say, “Our kid is in Shock Trauma, can you help?”

So it’s beyond any words that I can say. But I think you can hear from Frank’s words that it has become a Kelly family passion. And we love it dearly and we pray that it will continue and grow and it’s exciting to be part of it.

Senator Kelly: One little sidelight to this story, I became familiar with Shock Trauma when I ran for the Senate in 1978 against a gentleman named Dutch Ruppersberger. Dutch’s life had been saved by Shock Trauma and throughout the campaign all he talked about was helping Shock Trauma after he got elected.

He and I became friends in the process, which is very unusual today, in today’s political world. We became best friends and I promised Dutch that if I won, I’d always look out for Shock Trauma. I was fortunate to win that race and as a result, got involved with Shock Trauma.

Today I’m the Chairman of the Shock Trauma Board of Visitors. Dutch is the Vice Chairman. Dutch is a member of Congress and has steered all sorts of federal research money to Shock Trauma.

What we have learned here at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center, we’ve transported throughout the world. The military surgeons train here. The Israeli’s train here. The Israeli’s have an exceptionally good Shock Trauma system over there and they all learned it from here. The Air Force doctors go through Shock Trauma in their training. So we are worldwide in our reach. And it all started with R Adams Cowley.

And today we are celebrating this brand new building, this second building. I was privileged to chair the bond bill for the first building, but this second building is being built with funds raised by the University of Maryland Medical System, the State of Maryland and private funds as well.

This building will be state-of-the-art in every respect. Now perhaps when you hear this story fifty years from now, one hundred years from now, it won’t be state-of-the-art, something else will be. But there is one thing I’m sure: the legacy that was set by R Adams Cowley and the Shock Trauma Center will exist forever and will continue to be the best in the world as long as it exists. Not only is it a wonderful building and the legacy of Dr. Cowley, but indeed it’s a legacy of the men and women, the doctors and nurses who work here today.

Dr. Scalea, who is the head of the Shock Trauma unit and all that goes on here, I don’t think that man sleeps. He’s on call all the time, always involved in everything that goes on in this hospital.

The nurses are beyond anything you can imagine. I feel so safe knowing that Shock Trauma is a wonderful shining star of Maryland.

As Janet said, Dr. Cowley always used to brag about the nurses. Keep in mind; his major assistant was Liz Scanlon, who was a nurse when he started here. He raved about the nurses and anyone who comes here can see the nurses, the technicians, the administrative support here is unparalleled. These are all the reasons why Janet and I, we’ve been blessed with resources, have contributed what we could afford to the benefit of Shock Trauma.

In our wills, we have dedicated money for Shock Trauma. One of the things we’ve learned in life is that we’ve been blessed, we’ve had our own business and it’s been blessed. You can’t take your money with you, so it’s much better to decide now where you want to give your money so someone else doesn’t decide for you. So Janet and I have chosen to put the Shock Trauma Center at the top of our giving list.

Mrs. Kelly: For those of you who are listening and viewing this message, I want to give you hope. As a mom, I know a mother’s heart; I know a father’s heart. I know the heart of a sister, or brother or aunt or uncle who is waiting. And I believe the hardest part is waiting. But don’t give up hope. This is the best place your loved one could ever, ever be. Just pray and thank the Lord for this wonderful place. And don’t give up hope. It will be well.

And for whatever reason you are here, I’m sure it’s about a loved one, perhaps someone very close, son daughter, mother, father, police officer, law enforcement officer that you are here, waiting to help. There couldn’t be a better place in the world to be with a traumatic injury. Shock Trauma saves 97% of the people that come here. And we only get the most difficult cases. So we offer a message of hope and we pray with all our heart and soul that everything works out for the best for you and your loved one.

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