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Mass. General surgeon: 'I could see the smiles' as Obama visited Marathon bombing patients

A Massachusetts General Hospital surgeon said he could see the smiles of the Boston Marathon bombing victims as they visited with President Barack Obama at the hospital Thursday.

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A Massachusetts General Hospital surgeon said he could see the smiles of the Boston Marathon bombing victims as they visited with President Barack Obama at the hospital Thursday.

Trauma surgeon Dr. David King -- the doctor earlier referenced in Obama's speech who raced to the hospital after completing the 26.2-mile run -- gave some insight into the President's visit with 10 of the patients injured by the bombs, but said the details of their conversations would remain between the President and the patients.

King called Obama's visit "a gift" and said it was "extremely uplifting."

"For some it was a very emotional moment, for some it was very inspiring," he said, later adding, "From standing outside the room, I could see the smiles, so obviously they were extremely happy."

King said the President seemed equally pleased to have met with the patients.

"I could tell that the President was humbled by the patient’s bravery and their fortitude and their drive to continue," he said.

King said he, too, had the opportunity to speak with Obama, who he said had already known about King's story from Monday.

"We had the opportunity to talk quite a bit and I can just say I'm honored," King said, sharing his story. "I finished the marathon about an hour before the first explosion and I was on my way home when I got a text message about the bombing and I dropped my family off and came here.”

King then worked as part of the trauma team who treated the dozens of bombing victims. Despite his incredible feat, King insisted that the entire team get credit.

"I need to make sure that everyone recognizes that this is not an individual sport -- the marathon might be, but taking care of all these individal patients isn't. This is Massachusetts General Hospital ... The entire system brought its A-game when it needed to. The entire system of triage … the system functioned in my mind near flawlessly. At the end of the day this institution, Massachusetts General Hospital, made me proud and I’m proud to be here."

When asked whether the patients, several who are amputees, would run again as Obama ensured them they would, King did not rule anything out.

"We are on day 3-and-a-half after the event, I wouldn't’ want to comment too prematurely, but all of our patients are improving every day," he said. "I am extremely optimistic that all of our patients will make a fantastic recovery."

Nurse Alice Gervasini said the patients' illness did not stop them from enjoying the experience.

"They are very ill but able to feel that this was a very positive experience," she said. "I did not hear anyone say anything that wasn’t extremely helpful and encouraging."

She said Obama was also spoke with many staff members.

"The President was extremely complimentary of the team effort … to everybody within the departments that he encountered," she said. "As we left those areas many people were very thankful that he came, they were honored that he took the time."

Gervasini said the visit was very uplifting.

"The President of United States came and shook your hand and said 'good work' -- it would be hard to say that everyone is not clearly elated by the interaction. It's nice to be honored and singled out."

 
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