BOSTON (CBS) — While trauma surgeons are trained to treat victims of violence, they’re not robots. They’re humans, too, and watching children fall prey to senseless tragedy can take its toll on them as well.
Three Mass General physicians have been touched by gun violence and are trying to make a difference.
“It’s a day I’ll never forget,” says Dr. Chana Sacks.
She was working as a resident at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) when she received the most unimaginable news. Her 7 -year-old cousin, Daniel Barden, was one of the 20 children shot dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
“I still don’t think I can put into words the experience that nauseating pain of being in Newtown,” says Dr. Sacks. “Seeing these coffins that shouldn’t even be made that small. These little white coffins that are made for first graders.”
Doctors Peter Masiakos and Cornelia Griggs, both trauma surgeons at MassGeneral Hospital for Children and MGH, are too often on the receiving end of victims like Daniel.
“We patch up the holes and fix the broken parts, but often times it isn’t a success,” explains Dr. Masiakos.
“It’s absolutely gut-wrenching,” says Dr. Griggs. “And every child who comes in here shot is seared into our memories. There’s nothing easy about it and there’s no good way to deliver bad news to a parent or mother,” she adds.
“It really touches you when you hold the heart of a 5-year-old in your hand,” Dr. Masiakos says with tears in his eyes.
Since Sandy Hook, there have been more than 200 school shootings and in this year alone, 30 mass shootings.
“We have to see this as a public health crisis just as like anything,” Dr. Masiakos implores. “We talk about the flu every day. The 106 kids that have died from the flu in the United States in 2018. We don’t talk about the 1000 children that have died in 2018 from gun violence,” he adds.
Like those who those who lost their lives Wednesday and like Daniel.
“Three thousand people went to that school yesterday and every one of those lives is in somehow changed or affected and the world is different to them,” says Dr. Sacks.
All three of these MGH doctors are trying to focus attention on gun violence. In part, they have formed the MGH Gun Violence Prevention Coalition to help educate the public, parents, other doctors and clinicians about gun safety and to push for more funding for research.