about doctor stirs anger over loss of matriarch
resident Sandra Ickert cradles a picture of her parents, Marie and
William Mesecher. Ickert wants answers from hospital officials and Dr.
Jayant M. Patel after Patel operated on Marie Mesecher in 1997.
Mesecher died after the procedure. (JANET L. MATHEWS/The Columbian)
March 10, 2006
NELSON, Columbian staff writer
Ickert stood by her mother's bedside in 1997 and fought back tears as
she peered at the near lifeless form of Marie Mesecher.
at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center's intensive care unit
was quiet and felt like death, Ickert said. The machines and bed
dwarfed the 73-year-old, 5-foot-2-inch Mesecher, who had lost weight as
a result of pancreatic cancer. She had just spent approximately six
hours in surgery where doctors worked to treat the Vancouver woman's
cancer by removing a portion of her pancreas.
said her mother's doctor, Jayant M. Patel, described the surgery as a
three hours after the first surgery, doctors rushed Mesecher into an
It takes two paragraphs
to describe what happened. The final sentence
reads, "After multiple attempts to resuscitate her, she died in the
56-year-old Ickert, of Vancouver, said the lasting image of her
mother is one she wants to forget. The loss of blood drained any color
from Mesecher's skin and her swollen tongue protruded from her mouth.
wanted to pound on her mother's chest, to beat life back into her.
got to work to get back to us," Ickert said.
surgeries left Mesecher's body battered. One incision ran from her
torso to breast line. Another was on her left wrist. Blood oozed from
puncture holes that pocked her arms.
Hamilton-Mylan Funeral Home in Vancouver wrote on its report that
Mesecher's body arrived in "poor condition."
engulfed Ickert. The family lost their matriarch, the woman who
organized reunions, competed fiercely at even the simplest card game
and loved to bowl. Ickert was most distressed that the unexpected and
abrupt death didn't give the family a chance to say goodbye.
and routine of life softened the sadness. A phone call a year
ago reopened that wound as if a bandage had been ripped away.
Patel were being splashed across television news broadcasts
and newspapers with reports that Australian authorities are
investigating Patel in the deaths of 13 patients. Australian officials
now want to extradite Patel.
Portland attorney, Stephen Houze, said Patel is not submitting
to any media interviews. He also said in an Associated Press story that
Patel could not get a fair trial in Australia because of the
inflammatory press the cases had garnered.
considering her own legal options, but her attorney, Stephen
Giardini, said there are questions about whether the statute of
limitations has expired.
"The greatest obstacle
is the lapse between the act and the filing," he said.
Ickert sued, it wouldn't be the first time Patel's name was tied to
Oregonian reported that Kaiser Permanente, the region's largest
health maintenance organization, has settled five cases involving Patel
and paid out $1.8 million in two of them.
worked for Kaiser from 1989 until his resignation in 2001. He
then went to a job in Australia. Patel left Australia in April and is
now living in Portland, Houze said in the AP story.
coming to Oregon, Patel surrendered his medical license in New York.
would have appreciated knowing about Patel's past legal dealings
and the fact that he surrendered his New York medical license. Instead,
she said Mesecher was only given glowing accolades regarding Patel.
talked himself up like he was godly," she said.
until Ickert saw Patel on the news that she questioned what
happened on March 3, 1997, when Mesecher was wheeled into the operating
room at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland. The medical
reports Ickert gathered revealed a grisly story.
four-page narrative is a concise, detached accounting of the
procedure in which Patel performed a Whipple operation. The University
of Southern California's Department of Surgery describes the procedure
on its Web site as a method to remove the head of the pancreas, a
portion of the bile duct, the gallbladder and the duodenum.
says studies show an experienced surgeon is important for good results.
operation turned fatal when a vein was torn. Doctors tried
to sew the hole, but the surgery narrative said the vein "was the
consistency ? of wet tissue and did not take suture well."
bleeding followed. Doctors packed the wound and sent Mesecher
to the intensive care unit. The bleeding, however, wouldn't stop and at
one point seeped from the incision and pooled on the floor under
three hours after the initial surgery, Mesecher was rushed back
into an operating room where she later died. Records show doctors used
82 units of blood in treating Mesecher.
like a horror movie," Ickert said.
said whatever chance she has at a lawsuit isn't about the money.
been without money my whole life," Ickert said. "I don't want to make
money off my mother."
wants someone to take responsibility.
was born in Knob Noster, Mo., and eventually moved to
Vancouver. She worked in the shipyards and cannery, sometimes coming
home still wearing a hair net and rubber apron. Later, the family
opened the Colonial Shake Shop, a business Mesecher oversaw.
family of six children meant Ickert's father, William Mesecher,
often worked two or three jobs. Dinners frequently meant pancakes
slathered in hamburger gravy. Ickert said she didn't realize pancakes
could be eaten with syrup or jam until she was an adult.
meant a special meal, specifically big fat hot dogs and tomato or
vegetable soup a tradition that continues today.
didn't know we were struggling," Ickert said.
Mesecher who also nurtured the family's passion for card games,
specifically pinochle. It wasn't uncommon at family reunions to have up
to three tables of games going at the same time.
Ickert remembers her mother's competitive spirit was matched by an
equally fierce temper when she lost. That meant guarding against mom
and dad playing each other, Ickert said.
family held its first reunion since Mesecher's death in August. Ickert
took Mesecher's former role as organizer.
from bringing her sisters and relatives together was tempered by an
anger toward Patel that still simmers.
a lot of fun," Ickert said. "She wasn't ready to go."
Nelson is a business reporter for The Columbian. He can be
reached at 360-759-8013 or via e-mail at email@example.com.