Sal and Susan Paterna photo

Life-Changing Surgery Turns to Philanthropic Honor

A few years ago, Sal Paterna of Windham,New Hampshire, wasn’t sure his wife Susan had long to live. For most of their 48 years of marriage, Susan struggled with her weight. Now her health was declining: she was battling diabetes, she had undergone two knee replacements, and her liver was starting to fail.

Sal and Susan both knew that she had to make drastic changes, and one day — after learning she may need a liver biopsy — she had had enough. Susan decided to follow the example of her daughters who had received gastric bypass surgery and have the procedure herself. She made an appointment with the same bariatric surgeon who had treated her daughters: Darius Ameri, MD.

Today, Susan — who for years had very little energy — is up early every morning and pushes Sal to exercise and eat healthy every day. Her diabetes is gone and she no longer relies on medication. Seeing the positive, life-changing effect gastric bypass surgery had on his wife and daughters, Sal knew he owed a debt of gratitude to the man who made it possible. He got his chance at Winchester’s annual donor celebration.

“You didn’t perform just one miracle, you gave the gift of life to several generations of the Paterna  family, and we are eternally grateful,” Sal told Dr. Ameri and the nearly 150 attendees who gathered at the Winchester Country Club last fall to not only honor the generous contributions of the hospital’s many donors, but also to recognize the impact caregivers have on their patients, many of whom convey their gratitude through charitable giving to the hospital.

Many of the evening’s benefactors donated through the Champions of Care program, which offers patients an opportunity to recognize caregivers who played a significant role in their treatment or that of a loved one through a donation made in that caregiver’s honor. Champions of Care receive an acknowledgment letter from hospital leadership and are presented with a special pin. It was through Champions of Care that the Paterna family honored Dr. Ameri, who received his pin from previous recipient Arlan Fuller, MD, Clinical Vice President for Oncology Services Integration and Academic Affiliations.

“Our gift to honor you as a Champion of Care seems so small in light of what you did to dramatically change our lives forever,” Sal said.