A Chandler doctor who honed his skills repairing the crushed spines of trauma patients as a neurosurgeon in Scottsdale used those abilities last week on former POW Pfc. Jessica Lynch.
Dr. Frederick Marciano, brain surgeon, neurotrauma specialist and president-elect of Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn hospital's medical staff, was activated by the U.S. Army Reserve on March 14.
Less than a week later, the 43-year-old physician left for a three-month assignment at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center at Ramstein Air Base in Germany to treat brain and spinal cord injuries of wounded coalition military personnel fighting in Iraq, and personnel and their families stationed throughout Europe, said Marciano’s wife, Carol.
One of the first plane loads of evacuated patients included Lynch, 19, who was rescued from her Iraqi captors April 1 and transferred to Germany for treatment of fractures in her lumbar spine, legs and right arm. She has since been sent to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
"He said it went really well," said Carol, a part-time registered nurse who assisted her husband on surgeries in his private practice. "He's very talented and capable and caring. She's very lucky he was there."
Marciano, whose mission could be extended to up to a year, joined the Army Reserve in 1990 to help pay for medical school.
Three other Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn medical staff members have been deployed to serve in the war in Iraq, said Dr. Tom Wachtel, medical director of the hospital's trauma department.
While other staff members are covering their duties, the reservists' absence "put a little ding in us," said Wachtel, a Navy reservist who has served as commanding reservist for seven units, including one in Operation Desert Storm.
"I'd do almost anything to be over there with them," Wachtel said. "That's where the action is. It's a great feeling: Doing what you can for the guys who laid it on line."
At home, Marciano's secretary, Karen Kern, has rescheduled hundreds of office visits and elective surgeries, and coordinated other neurosurgeons to cover on-call duty for trauma cases. Marciano serves on 12 hospital committees.
"Redirecting all that is a major project," Kern said. She and other office staff are sending to Germany an American flag-clad care package stuffed with
Marciano's favorite snack — red licorice.
Carol Marciano also has had to redirect her life since her husband left. The couple have four children together; he has three children from a previous marriage. The children range in age from 6 to 17.
The couple has spent only a few nights apart during their 10-year marriage, Carol said, and the loneliness makes her grateful that her children have baseball games most evenings.
"I'm glad I have somewhere to go, but then I feel bad for Fred because he's missing it," she said.
Carol, who communicates with her husband every day by e-mail or telephone, said she and Marciano believe it was no coincidence that the highly trained surgeon was at Ramstein when Lynch arrived.
"We think that's the way it was meant to be," Carol said. "His skill was needed."