Gigi's Story

How important is it to have talented surgeons ready to respond during a crisis? Just ask any parent whose child has needed emergency surgery – parents like Joe and Julie Gibowicz. 

In June of 2011 Julie, Joe, and their children were visiting Julie’s parents, Joe and Sue Cyr, of Old Town, at the Cyrs’ camp on Cold Stream Pond in Enfield. On June 29, their eight-year old daughter, Gigi, complained of pain in her abdomen. In response, the Gibowiczes took their daughter to the nearest hospital, Penobscot Valley Hospital in Lincoln, Maine. After it became apparent that Gigi likely was going to require an appendectomy, she was transported to EMMC, the only hospital in Maine north of Portland that has a pediatric surgeon on staff. 

Soon after Gigi’s surgery was underway it became clear to EMMC’s Dr. Joshua Careskey that Gigi was not suffering from appendicitis. Her appendix was fine, but Dr. Careskey noticed an abnormal twisting of her small intestine, which cut off the blood flow to the small intestine. During the three hour surgery, a large portion of her small intestine was removed. 

Dr. Careskey explained to the Gibowiczes that at least one additional surgery may be necessary. The second surgery took place at EMMC shortly after the first. Months later in November Gigi underwent her final surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children in Boston. By that time the Gibowiczes were back at their home in Sudbury, Massachusetts. “We would have felt perfectly confident having Gigi’s final surgery at EMMC. However, due to timing, convenience and follow-up, we chose to have the surgery at Mass General.” 

“The physicians and staff at EMMC twice saved our daughter’s life. Words cannot adequately describe how grateful we are to the nurses, physicians and other caregivers who took care of our family during the three plus weeks she was there. In particular, Sue Dunning, RN, Jonathan Wood, MD, Amy Movius, MD, and George Payne, MD, were incredibly kind and professional. While EMMC may not have the worldwide reputation of larger, more urban hospitals, we found the quality of care to be on par with those larger hospitals. We were incredibly impressed by the high level of care Gigi received, as well as by the family-centered approach to her care.” 

“We are also deeply appreciative of everyone who gives generously to support the mission of EMMC. Your private support helps to support the work of people like Dr. Careskey and nurses such as Sue Dunning. That support leads to lives being saved. Just ask us.” 

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