The family of 48-year-old Ohio surgeon Thomas Lee Flanigan, who died last week, made public the obituary he wrote himself, self-praising his “shocking and unexpected but fabulous outing.”
Flanigan, who referred to himself as the “Ginger “God of Surgery and Shenanigans,” he wrote, “Yes, I’ve joined Princess Diana, John Belushi and Steve Irwin, the crocodile hunter, to leave me at the top of my game as an iconic superhero who it seemed very good be true “.
The obituary made no mention of what led to the April 27 death of Flanigan, a husband and father of three, who served on combat missions on two tours for the United States Army, where he went obtain the rank of lieutenant colonel.
However, said a media representative of the health system ProMedica Medscape Medical News the family confirmed he died suddenly of “a still undetermined medical problem.”
Flanigan, born on Halloween in 1972, worked with ProMedica Medical Plastic Surgery in Sylvania, Ohio and three other locations. He specialized in hand surgery and plastic and reconstructive surgery.
After his death, ProMedica surgical residents were informed that Flanigan was hospitalized a few days before his death.
In his obituary, Flanigan referred intensely to his wife, Amy, and children Joey (14), Evelyn (13), and Sylvia (10).
“Please take care of them like the priceless treasures they are,” he wrote.
Sarah Hill, MD, a third-year surgery resident who worked with Flanigan, he tweeted that the field “has lost a force of nature.”
She writes, “A barely adequate source of humor, jokes to the father, honest advice and patient advocacy, Dr. Flanigan taught us all to prioritize family, operate with confidence, value ourselves, and enjoy the journey.” .
Surgery has lost a force of nature. A source of endless barely-appropriate humor, dad jokes, honest advice, and patient advocacy, Dr. Flanigan taught us all to prioritize family, operate with confidence, place value in ourselves, and enjoy the journey. https://t.co/lhvPAum87y
— Sarah Hill (@SKHillMD) May 1, 2021
“In his memory, we will continue to elevate new and rising members to the House of Surgery, support each other and our juniors, and create laughter when we can’t find it,” Hill writes. “A huge thank you and a greeting to the ginger god of surgery and the shenanigans. We will keep the church lights on.”
Hill said Medscape Medical News he did not know that Flanigan was hospitalized a couple of days before he died. The close-knit hospital group received the news the morning after his death.
He said at first he was surprised he had created his own obituary, but when he thought about it, he said, “It was very appropriate.
“I’m not surprised he was very particular about the way he wanted to be remembered. I don’t think the idea of someone writing him a serious, sad, sad obituary would have suited him well,” he said. dit.
He was a fierce advocate for the patients and residents who worked with him, Hill said. He hosted a support group for his patients who were despising him mastectomy.
“It was exceptionally protective against these patients,” he said.
His family “was his world,” he said. “Every time he talked about his kids, his eyes just lit up.”
Flanigan said his life had been “a great career.” He said the credit for this was not only to his immediate family, but also to the University of Northern Michigan, brothers of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, Wayne State University Medical School, from which he graduated. in 2003, the army and “colleagues, various celebrities, random cartoon characters, people making memes, Russians and other friends and family.”
Flanigan was “humble” and “compassionate,” said Despina Walsworth, MD, with Beaumont OB / GYN Associates in Dearborn, Michigan, who was at her promotion in Wayne State, Detroit, Michigan, said Medscape Medical News. He said he was helping her overcome her own personal problems in medical school.
He said he was always fun and driven, determined at first to be a traumatic surgeon, and then changed his specialty.
One patient commented on the obituary on her surgical ability, evidenced by her recovery after a dog attacked her years ago: “Dr. Flanigan was a miracle worker and my arm looks amazing after his work. Never I can thank him enough. “
A wake is scheduled for May 6 in Toledo, Ohio, followed by a private family celebration the next day.
Flanigan left a final word for everyone: “Due to the unknown and cosmic nature of my next mission, this will be our last communication. It will be destroyed in five minutes.
“My whereabouts are now top secret, but let’s just say I’ve made new friends named Elvis and Kenny. Tom’s church is closed for business, but please keep worshiping me, lighting candles and sending money. . knows the deal “.
Marcia Frellick is a Chicago-based freelance journalist. She has previously written for the Chicago Tribune and Nurse.com and was editor of the Chicago Sun-Times, the Cincinnati Enquirer and the St. Cloud (Minnesota) Times. Follow her on Twitter at @mfrellick.