In 1952, Dr. Paul Weston became the first black surgeon to have admitting privileges at University Hospital. That was also the year that my mother had her first child at University Hospital in Augusta. She would not know that their paths would cross many years later.
Fast-forward to 1973, when my mother and sister were returning home from a wedding shower in Augusta. As she crossed the intersection of Gordon Highway and Walton Way, Mother never saw the semi-tractor-trailer truck that broadsided her car, sending it into a tailspin, and nearly bending it in half.
Kind people rushed to the scene to help as my mother and my sister awaited the ambulance that took them to University's emergency room. My dad was called, and he and I immediately headed for the hospital. I'll never forget that emergency room sight: my mother and my sister, side by side on stretchers, with doctors and nurses all around. I could see that Mom had a head injury, as she was bleeding profusely. My sister had been in the passenger seat, and no seat belts were worn by either. Mom was thrown into the windshield, suffering head lacerations, while my sister sustained some mild kidney damage.
As Dad and I looked on in shock, a doctor walked over to tell him that the blow to Mom's head had severed an artery that required immediate surgery. What he said next surprised us. I'll never forget it. He said, "The surgeon on call is a black doctor. Do you have any objection to him doing this procedure?"
Thank God my father was not a prejudiced man. He told the doctor that, of course, there was nothing wrong with the surgeon's being black, and to go ahead with the surgery. The surgeon on call that day was Dr. Paul Weston.
I remember Dr. Weston's calm manner as he came into the room and quietly took over. We left the room, and Dr. Weston proceeded with surgery to repair Mom's artery, thus saving her life.
I shudder to think what might have happened if Dad had objected to Dr. Weston because of his color. What a sad world when a person's color could be a deciding factor in the saving of a life!
Dr. Weston left a great footprint on the CSRA with his many decades of service, and he will be sorely missed. But I, for one, will never forget how he touched the lives of four obscure people from the little town of New Ellenton, S.C.
Rhonda F. Jones
(Editor's note: Dr. Weston died May 6.)