While on vacation with his family, Dr. Donald Liu saw two boys tip over in a kayak. According to the Chicago Tribune, the waters of Lake Michigan were rough, and they were struggling, so despite the pleas from his children that it was too dangerous, he plunged into the lake to help them back to shore.
The boys, who were family friends, made it to shore safely. Unfortunately, Liu did not. His wife, also a surgeon, attempted to perform CPR, but it was too late, and he was pronounced dead.
By all accounts he was an incredible man and a brilliant pediatric surgeon, who died the way he lived -- with a mission to help others. However, in his heroics, he left behind his wife of 17 years and his three children -- Genevieve, 13; Asher, 10; and Amelie, 7. And you have to wonder if the price for his heroics cost his family way too much.
I wonder if they resent or will resent that he gave up his life with them to help other children while they're left to grow up without him in their lives. I wonder if he was able to go back, would he do anything differently. I wonder if I would risk my life for someone else knowing that it would mean such a horrific loss for my own family.
I hope I would, and while I'm sure Dr. Liu's family will struggle with plenty of emotions, I bet the overwhelming feeling they must have about their father's actions is pride. Whether the boys would have survived without his help is unknown, but the fact that he fearlessly risked his life to save them is a true testament to the kind, caring man everyone says he was -- the kind of person we need more of in the world.
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So often we get wrapped up in doing what's best for our own family, protecting those near and dear to us. And that's great, but when someone else needs help, it's that basic respect for a human life that should win.
It's not easy, and I can't say what I would do exactly in a life-and-death situation. I know when I drive past a broken down car on the side of the road and it looks like someone needs help, I don't stop. If I'm with my kids, I worry about their safety; if I'm alone, I immediately think about what would happen to them if I was abducted and killed. And I keep driving, though I feel guilty.
I would hope, however, that if it really came down to it, and I saw someone clearly in a life-or-death situation, that I would be brave enough to put my own fears aside and try to help them. To show the kind of selfless, loving behavior that Dr. Liu showed, because even if I died in the process, I'm not sure I could live with myself if I didn't.
If someone's life was in danger, would you risk yours to save him or her, or would you worry about the family you were leaving behind?
Image via Chicago Tribune