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A Special Reunion


Dr. Rosenwasser with patient Lexi Tirpak and CBS 3 reporter Stephanie Stahl

Dr. Rosenwasser with patient Lexi Tirpak and CBS 3 reporter Stephanie Stahl.

Shortly after Alexandra “Lexi” Tirpak was born in a Bryn Mawr hospital, she was placed in the neonatal intensive care unit for what doctors thought was a mild breathing issue and a common case of jaundice. Three days later, on the day that Lexi was supposed to be released from the hospital, doctors informed Lexi’s parents of a much bigger issue. Lexi had congestive heart failure and would likely need to undergo surgery to survive.

Her parents were prepared to go anywhere in the country to find the best doctor to perform the complicated surgery that their daughter needed. As it turned out, the best doctor for the job was right in their own city. The Tirpaks were referred to Dr. Robert Rosenwasser, the Jewell L. Osterholm Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery, and President of Vickie and Jack Farber Institute for Neuroscience at Jefferson.

The stakes were high. At the time, the type of surgery Lexi required had never been performed before on a child her size or on many adults. Rosenwasser explained the risks to Lexi’s parents: she had a 50-50 chance of survival or death, and another 10-15 percent chance that she would lose a limb, have a stroke or experience some other unforeseen complication during the surgery. Three hours after the surgery had begun, Rosenwasser delivered the good news to Lexi’s parents: she had survived and there hadn’t been any complications.

Now ten years old, Lexi is a lively little girl who enjoys singing, riding her bike and playing soccer with her friends.

Though the surgery is behind her, over the years Lexi has always asked her parents about the experience. CBS’s Stephanie Stahl was there to capture the moment when Lexi finally got to meet the Jefferson doctor who saved her life.