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“Did your uncle have a brother named Emeterio?” he asks. “Yes, yes! Emeterio Flores is my grandfather!” I am overwhelmed with surprise. “How do you know my great uncle and my grandfather?” I ask. “I knew them both because I worked at your grandfather’s ranch in Mexico. I drove a Caterpillar tractor and made lakes and roads for the ranches.” “Mr. Flores,” I ask, “were you at my grandfather’s ranch named Cuevas Pintas (Painted Caves) when my grandfather first purchased that Caterpillar?” “Yes,” he answers. “Do you recall a small kid who was crying, who insisted he wanted to drive the tractor?” “Yes,” he says. “That crying kid was me!” I found myself choking up. We were both overcome and hugged each other. Mr. Flores chuckles. “I guess I made the right decision to let you drive the tractor!” I look at my residents and medical students and convey to them that what we are witnessing is the beauty of medicine, the reason one has to always take the time to learn about one’s patients. Here I am, a surgeon on-call who happens to transplant a kidney into Francisco Flores, a man I have presumably met for the very first time in my life. But by getting to know each other a bit, we learn that we actually first connected 45 years ago. Making these connections, these friends, establishing this doctorpatient relationship—this is, at its most ideal, what the practice of medicine is all about. After rounds, I feel the need to call my mother and tell her about this unbelievable encounter. We reflect together on our wonderful memories of my grandfather, her father. My only regret is that I did not buy a MegaLotto ticket right then and there: the chances of winning the Lotto are greater than suddenly--one on-call weekend--being asked to do a kidney transplant for a patient who, 45 years ago, put me on his lap and let me drive his enormous tractor! I am still thinking about all of this as I drive back to Austin the next night. It is time to resume my duties as Chancellor of the UT System. The teaching lessons for my residents and my students has been, ostensibly, all about how to transplant a kidney and manage the patient post operatively. But, really, the main 5

Connective Tissue 2013 | Volume 6  
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