I received a couple of more Jack Downes responses/remembrances. Here are some of them. The regular PAAD will return next week. Happy new year to all! Myron Yaster MD
Don Tyler, MD
In the late 1960s, the ASA offered paid summer preceptorships for students to spend 8 weeks in an anesthesiology department as a way to develop interest in the specialty. I applied, got a preceptorship and was assigned to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The PICU was particularly compelling because of a young attending, Jack Downes, who demonstrated excellence in patient care along with amazing compassion for patients and families. It was a transformational summer. In spite of that experience, I wound up in a Pediatric Residency then spent 2 years in the Navy doing pediatric ambulatory care. I quickly realized that I did not want to do that all my life and thought back to Jack Downes and the PICU. It was suddenly clear what I wanted to do. I applied to the anesthesiology residency in Seattle, was accepted and later wound up at Seattle Children’s. I have Jack to thank for opening up a whole new world to me and for a wonderful career in Pediatric Anesthesiology and Critical Care.
Maurine Heard, MD
Jack Downes was more than a mentor to me. He was the example of how we were to approach our profession, how we were to interact with patients and families, and how we were to survive in a challenging job. I remember asking him at the end of my fellowship what his ultimate advice was as I approached my new career. He said “always, always do the right thing.” I honestly did not understand what he meant until I lived that path for the last 35 years. To do the right thing for all the people we touched. Perhaps 25+ years after I finished. I sat down with Jack at a PSA meeting. He asked me, without pause, if I had tried to always “do the right thing.” I hope I have in honor of him if for no other reason.
Jim Steven MD
Thanks so much for compiling this amazing tribute to Jack. As you say, it's like holding a virtual wake. I'm sure nothing would give Jack more pleasure, including having Bill and Dean pay.
George Politis, MD
I spoke with Jack as recently as 2 months ago and yet I almost forgot about Jack’s cancer. He didn’t want to spend time talking about that. He didn’t complain, not even about deteriorating vision that made it impossible to do things he loved. He always spoke of his good fortune, his idyllic life with Joanne, visits with his family, and asked about my family and my life. He never blew his own horn, and tried to leave you with the idea that you could have done all the things he did if you had been in his shoes, though you knew that wasn’t true.
Jack knew the importance of guiding younger generations of pediatric anesthesiologist by imparting our specialty’s history, and Jack served as a beacon by sharing that history. I brought Jack to the University of Virginia in 2018 to serve as visiting professor, speaking to the entire department about the history of pediatric anesthesia. Jack spent three days with us, and shared his fascinating stories and warm companionship. The one thing he wanted to do during that visit was to go out to dinner with his old friend, Fritz Berry. Jack’s enthusiasm for getting together with Fritz was undaunted by hearing of Fritz’s memory troubles and understanding that Fritz may not remember him. At that dinner, Fritz said, “I can’t tell you exactly who this guy is, but I can tell you that we go way back.” It was obvious that not only Jack knew the importance of their friendship and both derived pleasure and energy from being in the same room.
I will always be guided by Jack’s propriety (Yes, I was on the receiving end of one of Jack’s fatherly talks when I was a CHOP fellow), humility, family values, and his ability for friendship.