By Lynn Okura
Six weeks ago, Ken Poccia received a quadruple bypass operation from heart surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz. A recovering drug addict, the Vietnam veteran abused cocaine and heroine for years as an attempt to self-medicate his post-traumatic stress disorder. Though he kicked one dangerous habit, he picked up another: smoking. After surgery has given him a second chance at life, Poccia agreed to stop smoking for good. Did he keep his promise?
When Poccia comes in for a check-up on “Surgeon Oz,” Dr. Oz knows the answer as soon as he steps into the room. The stench of smoke is clearly in the air, and Dr. Oz is not happy.
“What are you doing?” he asks. “The operation went so well.”
Poccia admits the cigarettes give him instant gratification. “It was the pain,” he says. “I was a little depressed.”
Though the surgery was a success and the bypass grafts now make Poccia’s heart healthier than it’s been in years, Dr. Oz says it could all be taken away. “We didn’t do this operation to make you feel better immediately,” he says. “We did the operation so you wouldn’t be dead by now. So I’m not going to bring up cigarettes anymore, I’m just stating a reality which is that you will destroy those man-made imitations of what God gave you really quickly.”
“So if you think those beautiful daughters and your wife are worth it, then you’ll stop,” he adds, as Poccia nods.
Though his stance on smoking is clear, Dr. Oz shows compassion for what this Vietnam veteran has been through. “I’m turning your life back to you,” Dr. Oz says. “I don’t want you to ever be ashamed or embarrassed, because you just did something huge. Some people climb mountains; you got to have open-heart surgery, and you did it with not 100 percent of who you could be, and you still got through it.”
His words seem to resonate with Poccia, who thanks Dr. Oz and gives him a hug. “Thank you for helping me out and believing in me,” he says.
Read more here:: Huffintonpost