March 8, 2013
My father-in-law, Dr. Robert Gates Trout, will be laid to rest today. He passed from this life to the next on Monday, from complications of a stroke he suffered last May. The obituary in the Philadelphia Inquirer calls him a pioneer in open-heart surgery. From 1962 to 1987 he was chief of thoracic surgery at Presbyterian Hospital in Philadelphia, where this plaque can be found.
For centuries, the guidance given to physicians was never to touch the heart. Only bad things come, they were told, from laying hands on that vital organ. Bob Trout was one of those early surgeons who first laid hands on the heart and healed people by taking that risk. He witnessed the first four open heart procedures conducted in the United States, and went on to successfully perform many others.
Bob Trout touched the heart of many people in many other ways, too. A loving husband and father to three children, he was always grateful for “the accident of his birth.” He never failed to extend a warm greeting and a quick smile as he gathered family and friends around him. He touched my heart, and I am much the better for the experience.