Nadia

The Epistle (All Saints Episcopal Hospital), January 1980   It was official!  The XXth World Gymnastics Championships would be held in the Western Hemisphere for the first time in its 84-year history.  Not only that -- it would be held right here in Fort Worth, Texas.  As part of a total community effort, All Saints Episcopal Hospital had volunteered to be the major referral hospital for injured athletes and/or officials for the championships.  Since there would be delegations from the entire world to include many communist and third world countries, we wanted the medical care to proceed as smoothly as possible.  All Saints has a major orthopedic service which promised to expedite the care of any participants.  This promise led to a series of events that was completely unexpected.

Athletes with various sprains and bruises, and a couple of sore throats, trickled into All Saints' emergency room during the first few days of the competition; the hospital quietly treated and released them.  Then on Wednesday night, December 5, around 6:00 p.m., a private car drove up to the hospital's emergency entrance.  A small man and an even smaller women walked to the nursing station.  Nadia Comaneci had arrived at All Saints.

Nadia is a symbol -- a child-star from a communist country (Romania).  She is loved for her child-like manner and admired for her incredible talent, yet her private life is veiled for the most part by the mystery surrounding the customs and politics of her country.  She had come to the World Gymnastics Championships in Fort Worth seeking something she had yet to achieve.  She, who secured seven perfect "10s" in her first Olympics, was going for the women's individual all-around gold medal.  This would be her chance, and the world was watching.

Nadia's complaint was a sore and swollen left hand.  She had an infection and was promptly admitted to one of the hospital's suites.  The attending physician, B. J. Wroten, MD, and his associate, William Van Wyk, MD, proceeded to treat their patient as they would any other patient with a basically routine serious infection.  Her course of treatment turned out to be anything but routine.

Nadia spent Wednesday night at All Saints.  She left Thursday afternoon to attempt to perform despite a badly swollen left hand.  The infection forced her to scratch on three out of four events.

Nadia did not report back to the hospital Thursday night as had previously been planned.  Her Fort Worth physicians were concerned.  She required more medication, more rest.  Friday afternoon, Nadia returned to her hospital bed.  The infection had localized into an abscess and was surgically drained on Saturday.  She was out of the championships. 

All of the nurses on Nadia's floor signed an All Saints' patient handbook for her to keep as a memento of her stay.  The Romanian team was scheduled to leave early Monday morning.  Against the advice of her physicians, the Romanian delegation insisted that Nadia go back with the team.

Nadia left All Saints Hospital for the last time at 4:30 a.m., Monday, December 10, 1979.


This page was created on May 02, 2004.
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