BY: ALAN GRAHAM.
I was having a garage sale on the corner of third and Orange when I saw a woman staring at a Jim Morrison T-Shirt I was selling. I asked her if she knew who he was and she told me a most heartwarming story.
When she was nine years old she was so imbued with the music of the Doors she convinced her mother that she should take her to see them when they came to play the Sports Arena in San Diego. I have heard many tales of young fans but none ever this young.
The concert ended leaving the mother bewildered by her child’s passion for this deeply complex music, but leaving the child even more consumed by the hypnotic lure of the mysterious/dangerous lyrics plus the spellbinding voice of Jim Morrison.
As we talked it became evident that this was no ordinary woman, in fact she was Dr. Patricia Aubanel M.D. world renowned interventional cardiologist, indeed, and she was talking to me about my late brother in law Jim Morrison.
As the conversation progressed we talked of the many things we had in common even though we came from polar opposite stations in life, we spoke as if we had known each other for all our lives.
Then the most stunning and thrilling piece of information knocked me to my knees with joy and happiness. Dr. Patricia Aubanel M.D. world renowned interventional cardiologist was also at the bedside of my heroin in her last days Mother Teresa.
To my great sadness I had heard that this great soul had made comments about how her work was “all for naught” and she would die believing this sad conclusion.
Happily it turns out that it was utterly false, and for me most gratifying because I remember the story she told about her visions, including one of herself conversing with Christ on the Cross.
Her confessor, Father Celeste Van Exem, was convinced that her mystical experiences were genuine. “[Her] union with Our Lord has been continual and so deep and violent that rapture does not seem very far,” he commented. Teresa later wrote simply, “Jesus gave Himself to me.”
Always there will be uncertainty in the minds of people about the faith of Mother Teresa, but there is NO doubt in the mind of Dr Aubanel, “Mother Teresa was faithful until the very end, her commitment to her faith and her life’s work never wavered”
We promised to meet again and I would interview her, The Doctor and I parted ways and after she had gone I felt the presence of Jesus combined with a deep but intangible spiritual sediment lingering in the morning sunrise.
Baja California has many sons and daughters to be proud of, great athletes, media personalities, politicians, scientist and excellent medical professionals. One of the most outstanding personalities in the region is Dr. Patricia Aubanel M.D. world renowned interventional cardiologist. Patricia Aubanel was born in Tijuana, daughter of two great personalities in Baja California, Dr. Gustavo Aubanel and Misses Luisa Riedel Aubanel. Her parents participated actively in regional politics, Dr. Gustavo was the first mayor of Tijuana after years of advocacy for Baja California to be recognized as a free state.
At the age of seven she decided she wanted to become a doctor, but it wasn’t until years later when she was in Pennsylvania for additional training when she found her true passion, the reason why her heart beats a little faster, her life’s mission, the practice of interventional cardiology.After earning her medical degree, Dr. Aubanel later attended Miami University and prepared to pass her medical licensing.“It was like going to medical school all over again,” she says. She did her residency in internal medicine at Boston University and was trained in interventional cardiology at Harvard’s Mass General Hospital. A few years later, she returned to the West Coast as a doctor at the internationally renowned Scripps Clinic & Research Foundation in La Jolla, California, where she served as a Fellow for Dr. Richard Schatz.
Her time spent in training with Dr. Schatz was transcendental to her life and to her future patients, it would revolutionize the way cardiologist would practice medicine in Mexico; due to the fact she was among the first doctors in the world, and the only non-U.S. doctor, to be trained in the stent. Mexico’s first experience with the stent was in 1990, when it was implanted at the National Institute of Cardiology; tellingly, it received approval in Mexico five years before the FDA approved it in the U.S. Dr. Aubanel would spend five years training thousands of doctors on both sides of the border on how to apply the new procedure.
The stent is a tube designed to be inserted into a vessel or passageway to keep it open. Stents are inserted into narrowed coronary arteries to help keep them open after a procedure called balloon angioplasty. The stent then allows the normal flow of blood and oxygen to the heart.
She has worked with many high profile individuals, but perhaps her most well know patient was Mother Teresa of Calcutta, catholic nun with a mission to help the impoverish. The nun was spending a fair amount of time in Tijuana working with the poor but her health was failing, so the bishop approached the doctor to asses Mother Teresa. At the time Dr. Aubanel was very busy working in Mexico as well in the USA. Seeing patients at Hospital del Prado in Tijuana and performing surgery and receiving advanced training at Scripps Clinic in La Jolla. In 1990 she created a private coronary and intensive care unit in Tijuana; it was the first of its kind in the state of Baja California.
She did Mother Teresa’s assessment at Hospital del Prado. “Mother Teresa are you ready to die? Asked the good doctor, have you fulfilled your mission on earth?’ She said no. She told her that before she died she wanted to go to China. She had tried before but the government hadn’t cooperated. “Can you help me get to China?” she asked Dr. Aubanel.Yes, but first there was work to be done.
After Dr. Aubanel evaluated Mother Teresa, the treatment of choice was decided, she concluded that she would open Mother Teresa’s vessel with the employment of the stent. But a complication existed Mother Teresa’s age, she was 81 at the time, she had bad over all health and she was not considered a good candidate for a stent. And a final barrier:
Mother Teresa didn’t want to be treated at Scripps Clinic, because she considered Scripps a clinic for millionaires She wanted the procedure done in Tijuana. She explained that they didn’t have the facilities,” she says. Mother Teresa responded: “What about your people? You need to take care of your people.” Dr. Aubanel gave her many reasons, all legitimate: she didn’t have the time right now to undertake such a big commitment, nor did she have the funds to build a coronary center in Tijuana. Mother Teresa wasn’t buying it. “You don’t need money, you need faith.” That day Dr. Aubanel made a commitment to herself and to Mother Teresa, to open a special center to treat the thousands of people of Tijuana with coronary and vascular complications. Mother Teresa requested that there be a chapel and said she’d be there for the first mass. “That way,” Dr. Aubanel explained, “the Institute would be blessed forever and she’d pray for every patient.” The operation was a success.
Since then Dr. Aubanel has offered many conferences in distant parts of the world; she has won many acknowledgments, including women of the year 1992, in the United States a foundation in Washington D.C awarded her again women of the year, for Latin women in the United States. She has also been awarded by the medical consumer research counsel to be one of the best doctors in the continent; she has been the only Mexican to be awarded this honor.
If you where to ask what makes Dr. Aubanel an extraordinary woman, and there is no doubt that she is, all those who know her would answer, that her compassion for others, her kindness to her patients, and strong values, make all her knowledge pale in comparison to the warmth of her nature and great spirit.
Great things are achieve when people invest time and effort in helping their fellow man, and don’t see illnesses, finances or stepping stones in order to accomplish a goal, an example of commitment to her patients can truly be said about Dr. Aubanel she has dedicated her life to saving and protecting the quality of life of thousands of individuals over the world. Now a day’ she has a passionate new project, the research and application of evolutionary use of stem cells. The most incredible aspect is that we are not inventing anything; it’s all nature, a Gift of God! As Mother Teresa would say.