By Cheryl Mercedes
NEW ROADS, LA (WAFB) - It’s an emergency surgery done at hospitals across the country daily, but when it’s done at sea, it brings on an entirely different set of challenges. A member of the U.S. Navy from the New Roads area learned that when he got sick at sea. A chance run-in with a team of Marines on one special mission could have very well saved his life.
A symbol of innocence, valor, and perseverance greets visitors to Lonny and Paula Guidroz’s home. Their son, Sam, made it his mission to defend the flag when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy just over a year ago. His parents say his grandfather played a large role in his decision. “Within a week he joined, and four weeks later he left for boot camp,” Paula Guidroz said.
Sam is an Engineman, a diesel mechanic, assigned to the USS Somerset based out of San Diego. His parents say when he is on U.S. soil, they hear from him a few times a week, but four days after Thanksgiving, Paula says she answered a call that shook her to her core. It was 5 a.m. “He said, ‘Mom, I have to have surgery.’ I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ He said, 'Mom, I have to have my appendix removed,” Paula said.
The surgery is pretty routine for most doctors, but performing the operation aboard a ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean makes it a challenge. Guidroz says a surgical team is typically not assigned to that ship.
“We asked if we could wait until they got to land, and they said no, it needed to be done right away,” Paula said.
Lucky for her and Sam, a U.S. Marine squadron was aboard the ship during the mission. Their fleet has a full surgical team. But the seas were high, so the surgery had to be done during a certain amount of calm. The timing had to be just right. “We were concerned because he was on the ship somewhere in South America and we didn’t know where,” Paula said.
The Guidrozes say four hours later, they got word that the surgery was a success. Three days later, they got to hear the news from Sam himself. “He’s a brave guy. He’s tough. I think he has a new appreciation for the medical staff there,” Lonny said.
Lonny says had it not been for the Marines surgical team that, by chance, was on that ship at the same time, the surgery would have not been possible. The outcome could have been very different. “I’d like to thank them for taking care of my boy because even though he’s a sailor and he’s a man, he’s my boy,” Lonny said.
The Guidrozes say Sam is on the mend and he’s back to making those routine phone calls they’ve enjoyed since his deployment. But they are looking forward to his next homecoming, just in time for Christmas.
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