Fifteen-year-old Ashli, a freshman at Temple High School in Temple, Texas, decided to use an assignment in her creative writing class to write a thank-you letter to the doctor that had saved her life.
She was too young to remember the event itself, but she knows the story well, with scars to prove it.
Shortly after Ashli was born on June 21, 2001, she began to show signs of liver decline due to congenital cirrhosis of the liver and was put on the National Organ Transplant List. On September 11th of that year, a liver became available in the next state, but all flights were grounded because of the 9/11 attacks.
Ashli’s condition had become critical and doctors advised her mother that she needed a transplant immediately.
Fortunately for Ashli, her mother, Crystal Pope-Taylor was a match and she was taken into surgery at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, where Dr. Robert Goldstein removed part of Crystal’s liver and transplanted it into Ashli. Ashli went on to make a full recovery and has shown no signs of organ rejection.
Ashli wrote in her letter to Dr. Goldstein, “Kids that go through the same thing… they don’t always make it. And me being able to make it, I’m just really grateful for those who helped.”
“[Doctors] don’t get a lot of ‘thank yous,’” she continued. “They need to know people appreciate their work.”
Dr. Goldstein was greatly moved by Ashli’s letter. “This is like the most amazing letter,” he said. “She is incredible to have sat down and done that.”
He said he received the letter out of the blue, and it impacted him and everybody in the office. He continued, “She moved me to the point where I wanted to give back. I wanted her to realize her words had a real lasting impression.”
Goldstein drove two hours from Dallas to Temple to surprise Ashli, who he had never met, in her first period class.
Neither knew what the other looked like, but as he walked into the classroom their eyes locked.
“Ashli?” he asked, as he walked in with a small bouquet of flowers, “Guess who? Your mom’s surgeon. You wrote me a letter. Dr. Goldstein.”
Ashli was stunned and covered her face. Dr. Goldstein stood in front of her and said, “Look at you!”
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