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Sonoma Academy student's guest at school: Surgeon who operated on him as newborn

  • Logan Ebert at Sonoma Academy, in Santa Rosa, Calif., on August 23, 2013. (Alvin Jornada / For The Press Democrat)

Look who accompanied high-school senior Logan Ebert to his first day of school last week.

His surgeon.

The highly regarded and ingenious Dr. John Foker didn't fly from Minnesota to make sure the 17-year-old came through his big day OK. No need for that. Though Logan started life with a couple of critical birth defects, he's now as strong and healthy as any kid at Sonoma Academy.

Foker attended the school assembly that launched the new school year because Logan was picked to deliver the student convocation address. He and his folks, Sonoma's Fred and Mara Lee Ebert, invited the Harvard-trained heart and thoracic surgeon to come hear it.

After all, Logan's speech thanked Foker for the gift of a normal life. And it held him up as an example of what can be done by someone who chooses to act rather than let an opportunity pass by to challenge oneself.

Logan told his nearly 270 fellow students he was born in Colorado without most of his esophagus, the tube through which food passes from the mouth to the stomach.

Logan was a newborn receiving nutrition through a tube when his parents hit the library at the University of Colorado's medical school to research the available surgical remedies to "esophageal atresia," among them moving the stomach up into the chest, or fashioning a length of esophagus from an extracted piece of colon.

The Eberts were unhappy with all of them and their potential long-term negative effects. Those "weren't the options my parents were looking for," Logan told his schoolmates.

"Without the help of the Internet, my parents spent weeks poring over the university's medical library books searching for a better answer," he said.

Mara Lee Ebert discovered an article written by Dr. Foker, a University of Minnesota surgeon and professor who mere months earlier had had pioneered a difficult but apparently successful surgery performed on a baby boy with a very similar defect as Logan's.

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