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Hurricane Harvey

Houston Physician Canoes To Hospital To Perform Surgery

Using a canoe a Clear Lake Regional Medical Center doctor — with the help of two volunteer firemen– waded through treacherous flood waters to perform surgery on a 16 -year-old suffering from a painful condition.


(R to L) Brianna Terrazas (Jacob’s sister), Yesenia Terrazas (Jacob’s mother), 16-year-old patient Jacob Terrazas, patient and Dr. Stephen Kimmel, pediatric general surgeon. Terrazas was suffering from a medical condition and Dr. Kimmel canoed to the hospital to perform surgery.

WEBSTER, TX. – Using a canoe as an emergency medical vehicle, a Clear Lake Regional Medical Center doctor — with the help of two volunteer firemen– made his way through treacherous flood waters in the middle of the night to perform surgery on a 16 -year-old suffering from a painful condition that if not treated within a short window of time causes permanent damage.

When pediatric general surgeon Dr. Stephen Kimmel got a call early Saturday morning that young Jacob Terrazas, was suffering from testicular torsion and needed immediate attention, he jumped in his car and headed toward the hospital even though his own home in Dickinson was beginning to flood.

Kimmel only got so far when he was forced to turn back home due to rising waters. Fortunately, two volunteer firemen were able to reach him in a personal truck that had a canoe in the truck-bed. The trio drove down I-45 until the water was impassible, then unloaded the canoe from the back of the truck and paddled in the dark against heavy currents until the water was calm enough for Dr. Kimmel to walk the last leg of the journey to Clear Lake Regional Medical Center, almost a mile in waist- deep water.

Patient Terrazas, his mother Yesenia Terrazas and his sister Brianna also had a harrowing evening getting to the surgery he so badly needed. On their way to Clear Lake Regional Medical Center from Pearland Medical Center, flood waters made it impossible to go further. Because of weather conditions, the Terrazas had to wait in the rain on I-45 until the Webster Fire Department was able to respond and bring them safely via ambulance to the hospital.

"We are so happy to be here," Jacob's mother told the hospital and EMS staff on their arrival. "Jacob was in such pain and was shaking and hardly able to talk when we got here, but everyone here is so helpful. This has been a long night, but this place is wonderful."

Knowing that Dr. Kimmel was on his way, the Clear Lake Regional Medical Center staff prepped Jacob for surgery and assured him and his family that help was on the way. Drenched head to toe when he finally arrived, Dr. Kimmel quickly changed to scrubs so he and his surgical team could get to work and save Jacob's organs from permanent damage.

On his heroic efforts to help Jacob, Dr. Kimmel simply said, "Sometimes you have to do whatever it takes. This young man's life would have been changed for the worse forever if we hadn't been able to perform surgery when we did. In the end, it all turned out very well."

The hour-long surgery was a complete success and Jacob will be discharged less than 48 hours after this long Saturday night that he, his family and the Clear Lake Regional Medical Center staff will long remember.

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