“All these I present for judgement and justice, to You, Lord!”
 (St. Nikolai of Ochrid)
 

Dear Visitor, below you will find out

How my dearly beloved Denisa (Daisy) went to Death
in the late of November 2003

A letter to Professor Leonida Gherasim,
her cardiologist and a distinguished Romanian physician

        Below are described the unbelievable, terrifying events I experienced in November 2003 in the Cardiovascular Surgery of the Clinical Hospital at Mures Borough (in Romanian Targu Mures and in Hungarian Marosvásárhely), a city located in mid Transylvania, Romania, which I keep reliving over and over since then. There is no explanation of our tragedy other than the fact that we met there a despicable and conceited surgeon R.D., named in the following as De Dracula (by chance an almost perfect anagram of his actual name), that was probably very embarrassed and hampered in his promotions by scientometric standards (‘impact factors’ used in the academic system, that I contributed to – see end note with the scientometric evaluation of Dr. De Dracula). Disastrously, his abhorrence against us - my poor wife, Denisa, and me, has turned out to be a deadly one. May Lord do justice to Denisa on earth as it is in heaven!

        For a better understanding of the present Romanian context, fully permissive to such horrors, it is perhaps useful to link the reader to two recent articles published in "heavy" Romanian weekly newspapers, such as "Socratic" in Revista 22 (20-27 April 2004) and "Barons" in Formula AS (24-31 Mai 2004). I take this tragic opportunity to hearty thank Dr. Andreia Maer for her most generous moral support and help to produce the English versions of the mentioned articles, as well as of the open letter to Professor Leonida Gherasim, as given in continuation below.

With deepest sorrow,
Ioan-Iovitz Popescu
 

Wednesday, February 18, 2004,
Bucharest, Romania


Summary. 13 weeks have elapsed since Denisa arrived full of hope to be admitted in the Mures Borough Clinical Hospital where the author of her death practices. Only 2 weeks were enough for him and his team to abruptly deprive her of the last several years of her life. I am convinced that those beasts have stolen good years of her life, through malpractice and fatal negligence. I will never be able to understand, why, after inducing acute pulmonary edema to Denisa through professional incompetence (misguided angiography), 48 hours later the surgeon R.D. "De Dracula" hurried up to open her heart, in order to replace the aortic valve. Or, in other words he hurried to erase the evidence of malpractice and to stage a natural death. In fact it was MURDER!!!
 
 

Dear Professor Gherasim,

        I have finally received, by mail, the discharge document from Denisa's “death hospital”,  the Mures Heart Center, Institute of Cardiovascular Surgery, Mures Borough, Romania. Per your request, I am sending the hospital admittance and discharge documents. You will notice that they are in total contrast from each other – which is extremely relevant.

        As you know, the hospital admittance documents consist in the angiographic diagnosis (coronarography), the CD with the angiography and the note given by you, which sounded very optimistic and hopeful. Your diagnosis was “aortic stenosis” and the result after the coronarography you performed (at the Emergency University Hospital at Bucharest, June 3, 2003) was:

(Note: TCS = Left main coronary trunk; IVA = inter ventricular anterior artery; CX = circumflex coronary artery; CD = right coronary artery)

After your last consult (October 13, 2003), you have strongly recommended the aortic valve replacement by Dr. De Dracula (my memory rejects now his actual name) at Mures Borough. I will always remember the metaphoric greeting you said to us (“Winter is here!”), but your anticipation was quite optimistic at that time. You found that her very good physical condition and her state of mind allowed her to try a surgical procedure on the aortic valve, to replace it.

        In the outmost contrast with the admittance document, the discharge note from her “death hospital” in Mures Borough  represents the autopsy protocol (finished after almost 3 weeks from the death!), which enumerates a few of potentially death causing findings, many of which were irresponsibly caused by the team of Dr. De Dracula itself (I hereby
reproduce their diagnosis and conclusions):

“The patient deceased at the Institute of Cardiovascular Surgery with diagnosis of aortic stenosis (with valve replacement recommended) and irreversible cardiac insufficiency was found at autopsy to have had a recent myocardial infarction in the left ventricle, bronchopneumonia, acute pulmonary edema, chronic lung and liver stasis. The direct cause of death is peripheral cardiac and circulatory insufficiency. Date: Dec.15’03. Autopsy performed by Dr. Simona Stolnic”.

        No mention about the angiography by which they themselves have caused the acute pulmonary edema, 48 hours before the open-heart surgery, with the result “concealed” by the complex list of death causing diseases mentioned above. (Denisa mentioned on the cell phone to a collaborator of hers, Dr. Agavni Surmeian, that she has heard them talking about what happened at the angiography – acute pulmonary edema and that she will now have to undergo emergency surgery – but she decided not to tell me about it, to not frighten me). What about the Hippocratic oath,  “Primum non nocere”! Doesn't it seem to you that, this long list of diseases accuses instead of exonerating them? What were they capable of doing to a patient in good condition in only six days, starting with the angiographic “investigation” and ending with death?  I saw her until the day of the fatal angiography and she was in very good shape, no pains, no aches, no coughing, certainly not a hint of a bronchitis or pneumonia! It is utterly unbelievable what they could do with a human being in good shape, who walked in the hospital on her own feet and with no symptoms of sickness, in only 7 days! What do you think they have written in the angiographic investigation record? Probably something meant to “disguise” and “mask” their deadly handling! Only you can find out, especially because De Dracula must have consulted you regarding a repeated angiography, only 5 months after the one performed by yourself!  The only physician that took care of her there, until then, was a physician, Liviu Morar, to whom  Denisa gave the CD with the results of the previous angiography done by you. He is probably the only doctor that knows what exactly happened before the tragedy occurred.

        May I remind you that Denisa was not brought to Dr. De Dracula’s hospital “on a stretcher” or in an emergency situation, she went there in good health only at your recommendation that the optimum time for replacing the aortic valve was in November (“no that many viruses going around”), “so that I would not regret later” that we had not done it in time. It was nothing urgent, just an optional surgery that could have been done any time. Apparently only after that angiography was performed she was operated on in an emergency, because of what they've done to her with it (as she managed to tell one of her collaborators)!

        Right before the ill-fated angiography we were enjoying a quiet dinner and remembering the best moments of our lives. We were sure that after the angiography the famous and busy surgeon would have to talk to us and tell us what he thinks. In the mean time, Denisa has already went through all the pains and long waits for having all kinds of check-up exams – including dental and gynecologic! We did not think then that a surgery was imminent. We just thought this was more like a consultation and we would discuss what had to be done. And even if he had been willing to do the surgery right away, unless it was truly necessary, we would have tried to postpone it. We were naturally a bit anxious about having that surgery done. At that time, I had not doubt in my mind that I will be able to see her again, alive of course, after the angiography. She had had another one done by you, so we thought we knew what to expect. We did not know at the time what was waiting for us just around the corner! That would have been the last moment when we could have fled for our lives from that inhumane hospital, to avoid the tragedy that was going to happen there!

        A few observations about the professional moral code of Dr. De Dracula, about the way he, as a doctor and head of the hospital, treated his patient, Denisa, and me, as her closest relative and companion, even though we have been sent and recommended to him by you. Do you consider normal that this man, after all our desperate, frantic pleas, did not talk to us, neither in Bucharest, nor anytime during the 10 days elapsed from her admission into his hospital at Mures Borough? I was in permanent contact with his secretary (A. Pop) at the hospital trying to get access to him, to no avail. Being exasperated with the fact that Dr. De Dracula refused to meet us, I handed our CVs to his secretary from the hospital (A. Pop) to give them to him, but even so I did not succeed in persuading him to receive us and talk to us. I also sent him scientific journals with personal dedications together with a note expressing our wish of meeting him, but I have never received a single phone call from him or on his behalf. (In retrospect, that may have done us more ill than good). Maybe we aggravated things by doing so!

        During those 10 days I had to keep calling you in Bucharest daily in order to find out what was going on with us in Mures Borough! I have tried calling him on the cell phone number you gave me, and left many detailed messages, but none of my calls were returned! In the mean time, you were able to reach him at the same phone number! He probably returns only the calls from VIPs, or else, he was already set against us. How can you explain this abnormal, unconscionable treatment we received from him? I believe that he has deliberately dodged from a meeting or discussion with us, in order to surprise us with the fatal angiography procedure. Because it is my belief that at the time of the angiography that Denisa was deadly wounded - the rest of it was just agony and “legal” death.  Or maybe he was afraid that I would beat or shoot him after finding out what happened at the angiography.

        After the angiography Denisa was not brought back in the ward as she were when you did your angiography, but instead she was taken into the intensive care unit (ICU). I thought then that was actually better for her, to get better care and facilities. We managed to re-establish our communication by phone, and she told me that she tolerated the procedure well (even though at some point they bandaged her leg and abdomen way too tight). She then asked me, impatiently, to do what I could to talk to De Dracula about her, but she did not tell me all her worries and suspicions, which she shared in part with one of her collaborators, in particular about the provoked pulmonary edema.

        The morning after his fatal angiography, while I was waiting I called you, and you, one of the calmest people I know, finally lost your calm and almost shouted at me to break his door if I had to, but to go talk to him about Denisa! It seemed to me that you and he already discussed the results and the consequences of that angiography. Finally, after a very long wait, when he gave his secretary permission to let me in and I finally met him face to face for the first time in my life, his first words, instead of a greeting, were - can you imagine this? - “And what do you want from me?” He then added that Denisa's heart was weak and made me understand that she had no chances whatsoever. In shock, I asked him what to tell her. He just replied curtly “I don’t know. We’ll see”, and with that he stormed out, and I was left standing there, petrified at all the implications. Then why did he perform the open-heart surgery the day after? Just to add a long list of death causing diseases, to the pulmonary edema which he has caused at the angiography?  I think that any surgeon in the world would have first treated the pulmonary edema immediately, and improve the patient’s condition – especially if she indeed had all those things listed on the autopsy report – before proceeding further with the open-heart surgery. Why this urgency to proceed with the valve replacement surgery, when there was no real haste to do so, as you yourself have concluded? After all, Denisa had had all her life this congenital valve malformation and she was still doing fine and was active enough.

        Starting with that day, I would not know for a very long time whether it was day or night, I would not know what is it to rest and sleep in peace.

        Shortly after I had this first (and last) meeting with him, De Dracula also visited Denisa and in passing he told her, cold as an iceberg, (as Denisa told me on the phone), in his first and last words to her, a harsh and curt “Tomorrow I'm operating on you!”. Dear Professor Gherasim, Denisa and I were your patients for more than 20 years, you have saved us several times and you know us very well. Did we deserve such a treatment from this person and doctor - De Dracula - to whom you have recommended us - did he show a normal behavior towards us?

        Do you know that after the fatal angiography performed on Thursday, November 20th, I could not see her at all and she could not see me, in the last seven days of her life? However, Denisa told me, on the cell phone, how De Dracula shouted at the nurse that he did not want to see any “strangers” around there. Denisa was sure that he was referring to me, since there was no other patient or visitor nearby. Was this beastly attitude normal towards Denisa and me?

        In the morning of the surgery, Saturday November 22nd, at 8:30 am was the last time I heard the voice of the person who meant to me more than anything in the world. She told me that she was getting ready to leave for the surgery and that she will leave her cell phone in the care of a nurse. In the end I did not know what else to tell her, and I told her to keep fighting tooth and nail for her life.

       The same day, after De Dracula came out from the operating room, I waited him for several long hours at his office (on the outer wall of which, towards the central hall, there is a large painting of our Savior, isn’t that a blasphemy?). He finally showed up and barely spoke to me curtly, saying that Denisa's condition was critical and we should wait and see. But I will never forget the look on his face, of satisfaction that he finished us! Definitely, the glance De Dracula gave me, over his shoulder, was not human. Not even Goya could have depicted what I saw then, the victorious grin and the souveraign disdain on his face. In that terrifying moment I started to understand that he had just finished Denisa and me from this world.

        A colleague of ours, Professor Cristian Stoica, called the ICU of the hospital to inquire about Denisa after the surgery. To his dismay, the doctor on call replied that she hasn’t seen anybody that were in such a bad state as Denisa was after the angiography, undergo an open-heart surgery, and still be alive afterwards. It seems very clear to me that De Dracula simply experimented on her, without having a prior success history, at any cost, and without our informed consent.

        In my mind, there is no doubt whatsoever that he was a murderer, because he preferred the likely death from the open-heart surgery in those conditions (like what that physician on call was implying) rather than leaving her alone, but risking that the botched angiography would have created major complications and perhaps death. In the latter case, it would have been very clear who and what was at fault and caused those complications. In the former, one can say there are things that can go wrong, which are not under anybody’s control. The open-heart surgery gave him the opportunity to mask and erase the traces of his earlier mishandling during the deadly angiography, so that he could blame the patient’s state (which was caused by his earlier procedure!).

        Denisa's agony lasted for another five days, until she was finally killed (legally and officially), on the evening of Wednesday, November 26th. She had indeed listened to me and has continued to fight with her last drop of blood, to live, for five days and five nights. Can you imagine how much she loved life, how strong and full of life she was, if she survived that long? But she just could not win this one; the deck was stacked against her.

        Returning to Denisa's last but one day, my desperate phone intervention to Mrs. Acad. Maya Simionescu  (Vice-president of the Romanian Academy), on November 25th, was belated but relevant. After being contacted from the highest levels, by such an important person, only after a few minutes, the ‘chameleon’ called me for the first time and he was literally unrecognizable. He had completely changed his attitude - this is probably the way his colleagues and his superiors know him. He was now full of explanations and even hopes, reassurance that everything was under control (in spite of trouble caused by tachycardia, i.e. irregular heart rhythm, during and after the surgery)... only that he was leaving for Bucharest the next day. And that very same day, on Wednesday, November 26th 2003, Denisa “died”. Do you think, my dear Professor Gherasim, that this perfidy and change of attitude of De Dracula, due to the intervention of Mrs. Acad. Simionescu, can be considered as a sign of professionalism and stability?

        The second (and last) phone call I received from Dr. De Dracula (he called me on my cell phone) was on the morning on November 27, Thursday, around 10 am (after his return from Bucharest). He announced me very abruptly that (1) there were no hopes and they had disconnected Denisa from the machines the previous night (about 12 hours before he called me!) and (2) his secretary was waiting for me in order to conclude the due formalities. I was under the impression he was expecting that I will have a heart attack that morning, but God did not help him. I even had the strength to ask him “What should I take now, a pill of Valium or Propranolol?”. “Propranolol!”  was his answer and that was the end of our last conversation!  Professor, do you think that such a short, insensitive and formal notification from doctor De Dracula was the most appropriate way to act after the infinite loss I had just suffered?

        Regarding the normality of Dr. De Dracula’s behavior, my questions above are obviously rhetorical, because the only answer is “NO”. In another, civilized, country, a case like this could not go by without being investigated, condemned by the public opinion and punished by law. I will leave this matter in God’s hands. May Lord do justice to Denisa on earth as it is in heaven! Even today, three months after our tragedy, I cannot conceive how I could have thrown Denisa to this brute. As I look back now, in retrospect, I realize he was dead set against us. You will ask me why would he be deadly singling us out? Since that time I asked myself a thousand times but, unfortunately, I have only (great) suspicions. On the other hand, maybe you could eventually come up with the missing pieces of this puzzle. For instance, didn't you feel a fellow’s rancor and jealousy because you were elected honorable member of the Romanian Academy while he wasn’t (yet)? After all, Dr. De Dracula was also State Secretary of the Romanian Ministry of Health and Family and he would have coveted that title, and academic glitter, no matter how deserved they were (or not), for his political career. Or perhaps he has striven for an academic promotion or for merit awards at the Academy while he did not have a relevant number of articles published in ISI ranked journals? In that case, showing him our CVs must have really infuriated him, and fuel his hatred and jealousy. If that is true, he had all the reasons he needed in order to direct his fury against us, because I (your colleague from the Academy) am well known for the physicists’ (and not only theirs) “psychosis” regarding “the impact factors”. Are those damned “impact factors” the reason for killing Denisa? I can assure you that I have made a lot of academic enemies, some of them known but most of them unknown, therefore even more dangerous. Is it possible that De Dracula is one of them, and we, poor Denisa and I, at the age of 71, have went as far as Mures Borough and stepped on such a land mine? Maybe you have other information or considerations.

        The fact is Dr. De Dracula has destroyed in just a few days all our dreams and projects left after the work of a lifetime. On this tragic occasion, out of the great number of messages I received, I am attaching two “In Memoriam” messages dedicated to Denisa, namely the message from the Institute of Atomic Physics at Bucharest-Magurele and the American message, written by Prof. Carl B. Collins, the director of the Center for Quantum Electronics of the University of Texas at Dallas, and a honorary member of the Romanian Academy. Details about Denisa’s numerous citations and mentions abroad, including papers by Nobel laureates in the field of lasers (Schawlow, Bloembergen, Prokhorov) can be found at her internet address:  http://www.iipopescu.com/DENISA_POPESCU.html. For her great discovery of atomic multiphoton spectra, Denisa was four times nominated for the Nobel Prize in Physics. A set of links - a virtual, ethereal monument dedicated to the memory of my beloved Denisa - can be found at the top of my web page at the address http://www.iipopescu.com/ which includes links to photos from the time of her scientific glory.

         I repeat, even today, three months after our tragedy, I cannot believe how I could have thrown Denisa under the feet of this brute who, in retrospect, must have been dead set against us. At any time during the first 10 days of hospitalization, before the deadly trap of the coronarography, we could have fled for our lives from that hospital, which disrespected and humiliated us. That where the Tragedy has started, at the angiography! There is not a shade of doubt about it. The mistake of being patient and trust a ‘man’ whom we did not really know for what he was became fatal! Unfortunately I understood only too late that there was no chance that I could negotiate on the matter with De Dracula, change his course of action in a timely fashion!

        I must emphasize again my deepest, bitter regret that I did not posses the necessary tens of thousands of dollars that would have enabled her to have this surgery in some Western country. I am sure this would have saved the life that was the most precious to me, the life of my dearest, unique Denisa. I am convinced that those beasts of Mures Borough Clinical Hospital have stolen good years of her life, through malpractice and fatal negligence. I will never be able to understand, why, after inducing acute pulmonary edema to Denisa through professional incompetence (misguided angiography), 48 hours later the surgeon R.D. "De Dracula" hurried up to open her heart, in order to replace the aortic valve. Or, in other words he hurried to erase the evidence of malpractice and to stage a natural death. In fact it was MURDER!!!

        Dear Professor Gherasim, I have addressed you in your quality of a professor, a doctor, a priest, a friend. Dixi et salvavi animam meam.

Sincerely, with all my friendship,
Ioan-Iovitz Popescu
 

End note:

1. Definitions and formulae concerning the impact factor and its use in journal ranking and scientific output assessment can be found at  http://www.iipopescu.com/Jo_rankingb.htm

2. Dr. R.D. (De Dracula): a scientometric case study. If you want to know what Dr. R.D. (De Dracula) has ever published in better known journals, with titles and abstracts where available, click here. This PubMed list of publications allows a quick scientometric assessment of his scientific output: the current (June 2004) result amounts only to about 5.26 points for the sum of [(journal impact factor) / (article author number)] extended over his whole list of 22 scientific publications, a figure too low, even for an associate university professor!
 
 

"Lord, Bless My Enemies"
A Prayer of St. Nikolai of Ochrid

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

Enemies have driven me into Thy embrace more than friends have.

Friends have bound me to earth, enemies have loosed me from earth and have demolished all my aspirations in the world.

Enemies have made me a stranger in worldly realms and an extraneous inhabitant of the world.

Just as a hunted animal finds safer shelter than an unhunted animal does, so have I, persecuted by enemies, found the safest sanctuary,

Having ensconced myself beneath Thy tabernacle, where neither friends nor enemies can slay my soul.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

They, rather than I, have confessed my sins before the world.

They have punished me, whenever I have hesitated to punish myself.

They have tormented me, whenever I have tried to flee torments.

They have scolded me, whenever I have flattered myself

They have spat upon me, whenever I have filled myself with arrogance.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

Whenever I have made myself wise, they have called me foolish.

Whenever I have made myself mighty, they have mocked me as though I were a dwarf.

Whenever I have wanted to lead people, they have shoved me into the background.

Whenever I have rushed to enrich myself, they have prevented me with an iron hand.

Whenever I thought that I would sleep peacefully, they have wakened me from sleep.

Whenever I have tried to build a home for a long and tranquil life,they have demolished it and driven me out.

Truly, enemies have cut me loose from the world and have stretched out my hands to the hem of Thy garment.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

Bless them and multiply them; multiply them and make them even more bitterly against me:

so that my fleeing to Thee may have no return;

so that all hope in men may be scattered like cobwebs;

so that absolute serenity may begin to reign in my soul;

so that my heart may become the grave of my two evil twins: arrogance and anger;

so that I might amass all my treasure in heaven;

ah, so that I may for once be freed from self deception, which has entangled me in the dreadful web of illusory life.

Enemies have taught me to know what hardly anyone knows, that a person has no enemies in the world except himself.

One hates his enemies only when he fails to realize that they are not enemies, but cruel friends.

It is truly difficult for me to say who has done me more good and who has done me more evil in the world: friends or enemies.

Therefore bless, O Lord, both my friends and my enemies.

A slave curses enemies, for he does not understand.

But a son blesses them, for he understands. For a son knows that his enemies cannot touch his life.

Therefore he freely steps among them and prays to God for them.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

Amen