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I Can’t Believe He’s Gone

Condolences are pouring in from all over the world for Doctor Ralph Feigin who died Thursday of lung cancer. Colleagues remember the man who put Houston on the map as the center of pediatric care. Pat Hernandez has more.



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The mood among the medical staff at Texas Children’s Hospital following the death of Dr. Feigin can be best described as comfortably numb. It is a testament to the way he conducted business on both a professional and personal level. Doctor Donald Mahoney is a pediatric hematologist at Texas Children’s Cancer Center. He says there aren’t enough superlatives to describe a hallmark member of the faculty…a true humanist, a legend in the field that will not be easy to replace.

“I can’t imagine who they’re going to find to fill his shoes and, whoever does is going to have a tremendous challenge, quite frankly. I think he wants us to move ahead. I think he realized during his illness that the mission of the hospital and of the pediatrics department was the move ahead.  And he has never stood in the way of that mission and goal.”

Feigin had the ability to relate to everyone in a way that they felt comfortable and important and a major participant in his vision of the pediatric program. Doctor Gail Demmler-Harrison works in the section of infectious diseases at Texas Children’s. She’s been on staff as long as Dr. Feigin.

“Dr. Feigin’s been here for 31 years and it’s been almost like Camelot during those wonderful 31 years. We miss him deeply already, because his presence here was daily. But, we’re going to carry on his vision and his expectations of excellence and keep on doing excellent research, education and patient care.”

She says she’ll always remember how he stayed connected with his weekly rounds — whether it be Tuesdays at Texas Children’s, Wednesdays at Ben Taub and grand rounds on Fridays — where he expected everyone to attend and to learn to be the best doctors that they could. Doctor Sheldon Kaplan heads the Infectious Disease Service at Texas Children’s. He came to Houston from St. Louis with Dr. Feigin. He said he’ll never forget how Feigin wanted every children to be treated the same—no distinction.

“Wanting excellence in patient care, in teaching and research, and that’s what he strove for every single day.  And that’s what he would want us to keep doing, and that’s one of the reasons I’m working today.”

Over two thousand pediatricians and pediatric specialists owe their careers to Doctor Ralph Feigin.

Pat Hernandez, KUHF…Houston Public Radio News.

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