|Dr. Kopits and me having fun after a surgery (Personal Photo)
The word hero means many things to many different people. To some, a paramedic is a hero; to some it may be a member of their family, but to me the word hero means one thing and that is my doctor.
Dr. Steven Kopits has to be the greatest man that I have met in my life, and he probably always will be. I first met Dr. Kopits under sad circumstances, but that didn’t stop me from immediately taking him in as my hero. I met him after my mom realized I didn’t seem to be walking right. She called all the doctors she knew, but no one had any idea what was wrong with me. Eventually, she was referred to Dr. Steven Kopits, the founder of St. Joseph’s International Center for Skeletal Dysplasia. So we went to see him one day, and he didn’t even have to look at the X-rays to see that I had a rare skeletal dysplasia case called SED, he was that good. Right after he saw me, he told me I had to have a major operation on my hips.
|Dr. Kopits and one of his young patients
I was too young at the time I first met him to realize what a genius Dr. Kopits was. He was such a hero for so many people; he touched their lives in so many ways, saving most of the people he met. When I got older and was still under his care, I started to realize how divine this person was, and I don’t use the term divine lightly at all. I could always look at him and just see his mind working; he was so determined to help me, but also to maintain my sanity by not doing too many surgeries.
The last surgery he performed on me was a halo surgery, taking the marrow from my legs and sealing it over my C1 and C2 vertebrae which were hurt in a bizarre golf cart incident, not of much relevance. I went up to tighten the bolts in my head from the halo, which by the way isn’t a fun process. The screws somehow got stripped in my skull the day after, and I woke up with a horrible headache. Now if this doesn’t show what a godsend he was, then I don’t know what does. He somehow knew that I was hurting; he called this certain morning, and in a worried voice, asked my mom if I was okay. Apparently, he was in contact with some divine forces that day; my mom told him what happened and he came from the hospital in Towson, Maryland, to buzz saw my cast off me and to get the brace on my neck. That, in my opinion, is a true hero. He saved my life on multiple occasions and didn’t even think it was a big deal; he always didn’t think it was enough. His attitude was “There are so many people I am not helping,” and to me that kind of modesty coming from an incredible man makes him a true hero.
|Dr. Kopits and one of his patients in his office
Dr. Steven Kopits was a Hungarian doctor just as his father and his grandfather before him. But he made drastic changes in the field of “little people;” he made something that people regarded as “incurable” into something that could help make their lives worth living. He had over 1,800 patients under his care from the United States, as well as from 38 other countries. He treated all kinds of dwarfism, from club feet to bow legs, limp spines, and disjointed hips.
Before I knew Dr. Kopits, he worked as the chief orthopedic surgeon at John Hopkins Hospital. He quit in 1978 to work full time on dwarfism. I mean to quit an incredible job at such a prestigious hospital to work on this is amazing, it really shows how dedicated he was.
I still remember the exact experience of going every year for my checkups and also surgeries. The office was always so much fun to go to, especially for a doctor’s office. I always used to play with all of the toys they had out, and there were a lot. The office was painted with a lot of different colors like red, blue and yellow, but the thing I remember most about Dr. Kopits' office was the fish tank; I could stare at that for hours.
Unfortunately, my hero, Doctor Steven Kopits, is no longer with us. After recovering twice from a serious and very aggressive brain tumor, he went into remission for the last time. I was the first surgery he had after recovering the second time from his brain tumor, which was my halo surgery. But the third and last time, the brain tumor was too much for my hero to handle. Even though he is no longer with us, he lives on in the hearts of all of his many patients - of that I can be sure.
- Dr. Kopits helping a young girl back to mobility
- Praise for Dr. Kopits
- Memorial for Doctor Steven Kopits
- New York Times; May 12, 2006