The year was 1942. My father’s father, Meir Nuri, the man who I am named after, underwent a “minor procedure” in Iraq. Complications ensued immediately after the procedure and, as a result, my grandfather lost his life the very next day. My father was now in charge of raising his ten young siblings. His mother was very loving but her husband had been the one in charge of the finances. My father wept without end. At age 16 his best friend, the center of his universe, was gone. He walked out of the hospital and knelt on the sand. Drawing a puzzle made up of 12 pieces, similar to the 12 tribes of Israel, he then removed the center piece of the puzzle. The piece that represented his father. Sitting up all night, terrified and sobbing, he tried to figure out how to rebuild that puzzle on his own. In the morning he got up and decided to change his life. He left school and started to work, at times, 20 hours per day, to support his brothers, sisters, and mother. He promised himself that he would make sure that each of his siblings would receive an education and get married before he would consider his job complete.
Twenty years ago today, the doors to the Cardiovascular Institute opened. As my father stood proudly on that day, in that first small office, he recounted the events of the night after his father had passed. Our mission, like his, would be to keep all of the families of our patients together. To keep the puzzle of each family that puts its trust in us together. That is our mission.
As I stand here today, I cannot be more proud of what we have accomplished. After years of work from morning to night, and on occasion 24 hours a day, we have assembled a team of people of whom I am extremely proud. “The best people in the world,” my father always says. From my father, who built and currently manages the office, to my colleague, Ramiro, to Bhagat, Martha, Tatyana, Vladimir, Leslie, Mariana, Marissa, Sylvia, Aida, Liora, Elizabeth, Lana, Ofir, Jessie, and all of our wonderful students.
In those twenty years, we have often received many thoughtful and heartwarming gifts from our patients. All of them carry great meaning. But, every morning I arrive 30 minutes before everyone else to look at one particular gift. Another puzzle.
Several years ago a beautiful family came to us. The family consisted of a loving mother, who relied on her husband, a father, and a severely autistic young woman. The father had been having a very difficult time with his health and they had driven a great distance to see us. He was the sole provider for his family and had been sick for several months. After repeatedly passing out, he had been seen by multiple doctors and hospitalized on multiple occasions without any formal diagnosis. After careful evaluation, we discovered the problem and were able to correct it with a surgical procedure. His daughter, the autistic child, understood exactly what had happened, and its significance to her and to her family.
As her mother later recounted to me, as soon as her dad came home she grabbed her mother’s hand and dragged her to a store. Once inside she stopped in front of a particularly complex puzzle. Pointing to it, she said with enthusiasm, “Dr. Ben-Zur!” They returned home with the puzzle and she immediately put it together with incredible speed. The same puzzle would’ve taken me many months to assemble. When she brought it to the office she gave me a big hug. The normally very shy girl, who her parents said, rarely demonstrated any affection, showed me the meaning of warmth. Her mother explained that her daughter meant for the puzzle to represent all the pieces of her family, with the face being her father. Now, my puzzle is back in one piece. Tears of joy filled my eyes and my throat constricted. It took me immediately back to the night my dad was putting his pieces together.
And so, for all those who ask me, “Why do you get up so early?” and “Why do you put so much effort into what you do?” and “Why don’t you ever go on vacation?” I stand back, and point to that puzzle, and say, “Today I’m assembling a puzzle!”
Uri Meir Nuriel Ben-Zur, M.D., F.A.C.C.
And the loving members of the Cardiovascular Institute
With All of My Love, Pauline Bustamante
From the Bustamante Family:
I have never met a doctor so dedicated to helping, caring, saving, guiding, and supporting his patients the way Dr. Uri Ben-Zur does.
I had a condition no other doctor knew how to treat. The doctors (cardiologists, neurologists, etc.) told me my heart was fine and that they couldn’t find anything abnormal.
My daughter, Annie, received a referral for Dr. Ben-Zur. She called his office and immediately made an appointment.
When I arrived at his office, I waited no more than 2 minutes before the doctor greeted me and my family. He took me into a room where his friendly staff ran tests and asked me questions.
Going to an appointment with Dr. Ben-Zur is completely different than going to any other doctor appointment. The tranquil atmosphere and harmony that one feels is incredibly relaxing. I sometimes spend hours at his office (with all the testing that needs to be done) but time passes quickly and it’s always a pleasure since it’s such a calm environment.
For me, it was a blessing from G-d to have found Dr. Uri Ben-Zur. Not only did he save my life, but I had the opportunity to meet such an extraordinary and charitable man. My family and I are profoundly grateful for all of his help and for the compassion he shows for my special needs daughter, Pauline.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you doctor.
May G-d bless you.
Jose Bustamante & Family
Thank you for saving our Papi, The Bustamante Family