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Gail and Paul Katz

Four Births in Four Years Stir Gamut of Memories

Gail and I arrived in Washington, DC, in 1961—fresh out of graduate school in Madison, Wisconsin—to work in the Kennedy Administration. Gail soon became pregnant. I had a background in health care economics so we purposely picked Holy Cross Hospital because of the quality of care. We found a wonderful obstetrician, Allen Offen, MD, who had privileges there.

In May 1963, Gail delivered Jennifer, the first of our four children. Unfortunately, Jennifer was born with biliary artresia and lived for only six months. Our next child Seth—born in July 1964 with a hole in his heart—never even made it out of the hospital, dying at just three days old. Today, of course, modern medicine can prevent those defects from being fatal.

At the time, Holy Cross Hospital was still staffed largely by nuns, and we remember them fondly. They were exceptionally well-trained, caring and worked long, hard and well. During those devastating ordeals, I also remember the priest on duty coordinating with our Rabbi to provide pastoral care and comfort to us both.

Subsequently, we were examined at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda for a possible genetic cause for the two birth defects, but none were found. On our doctor’s advice, we became pregnant again—this time successfully.

Back at Holy Cross Hospital, our son Steven was born in October 1965, followed by daughter Stacy in January 1967. In the intervening years, only Steven ever had occasion to return to Holy Cross Hospital—for childhood hernia surgery and a broken leg when he was a teen. Thankfully, both were healthy and are now in their 40s. And our daughter has given us two grandchildren!

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