Honoring Dr. Luis Bonilla and David Hines
Two treasured Mayo Clinic servants give their lives
Men who made careers out of giving patients the gift of life made the ultimate sacrifice on Monday, December 26, 2011. Luis Bonilla, M.D. a cardiac surgeon at Mayo Clinic, and David Hines, an organ procurement technician employed by Mayo Clinic, were flying from St. Augustine, Fla., to Gainesville, Fla., to retrieve a donor heart for transplant. The men were flying on a third-party helicopter piloted by E. Hoke Smith. The helicopter crashed, taking the lives of all three men.
"Great person, talented surgeon, dedicated professional"
Throughout his career, Dr. Bonilla was passionate about making sure every patient received the best care possible. His dedication, determination and persistence helped him pursue research as well as his clinical interests in cardiothoracic transplant and cardiac bypass surgery.
Dr. Bonilla received a medical degree, completed his residency and worked several years as a surgeon in Columbia. Moving to America meant that Dr. Bonilla had to repeat his training. In November 2011, he transferred from Rochester, Minn., to Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., to join the Section of Cardiothoracic Surgery in Florida as a Senior Associate Consultant so he could expand the surgical program for lung cancer.
No one imagined that this would be Dr. Bonilla's last Christmas — especially not his wife Tracy, a former Mayo Clinic cardiac surgery intensive care nurse whom Dr. Bonilla met while working in Rochester, Minn., or his three surviving children: Ana (12), Philip (9), and Anthony (7).
"David loved to fly, and he loved a challenge."
David Hines joined the Mayo Clinic's Transplant Center in 2006, and it was his job to assist a surgeon in procuring an organ and keeping it viable. He had trained as a medical services specialist with trauma management experience in the Air Force. After almost 30 years of service in the Air Force National Guard, he retired as a master sergeant in 2006.
Hines often said he had the best job in the world, and he called transplant team members his second family. "It was never about him; it was always about our patients, his teammates, everyone he worked with," says his supervisor Linda Boso.
Transplant nurse Thomas Mulligan has the highest regard for Hines. "He was always ready to go," says Mulligan. "Anytime I was on call, he'd say, 'Call me, I'll go; I want to go.'"
In addition to his legacy of kindness and hard work, Mr. Hines left behind two daughters, Christine Hines and Crystal Griner from Jacksonville, Fla., a son, Jonathan Hines from Lusby, Md., and two grandchildren, Keriona Griner and Cassidi Hines.
"Perished bringing the gift of life"
William C. Rupp, M.D., vice president of Mayo Clinic and chief executive officer of Mayo Clinic in Florida, says the men "perishing bring the gift of life to a transplant patient." Dr. Rupp encouraged the community to honor the dedication and sacrifice of Dr. Bonilla and David Hines by continuing to support organ donation.