Former Cooper Patient Credits Cooper Team with Saving His Life

When Kristen Rodriguez tweeted to FOX 29’s Mike Jerrick, she had one wish for Father’s Day: that her father might meet the Cooper trauma surgeon who saved his life. On Monday, June 19, the teams at Good Morning Philadelphia and Cooper University Health Care coordinated a surprise to help that wish come true. Seven weeks after Cooper Trauma Surgeon Dr. John Chovanes removed his gallbladder in an emergency surgery, Jack Bender was able to thank him in person.

Jack Bender: You saved my life.

Sally Bender: And your team.

Dr. Chovanes: That’s who it is- at our hospital, it’s not me. It’s not me at all. It’s our incredible trauma surgeons, I work with amazing doctors and nurses. It’s those nurses and those other doctors, and everybody, the techs, everybody makes that trauma center run. Everybody. From the man or woman who keeps the place clean to the surgeons, it’s a whole team effort.


Left to right: Fox 29 Good Day Philadelphia co-host Mike Jerrick, Kristen Rodriguez, Sally Bender, Jack Bender, Dr. John Chovanes, Dr. John Porter.


Jack Bender, a Marine, presents Cooper trauma surgeon Lt. Col. John Chovanes with the Marine Challenge Coin as a token of his appreciation for saving his life.

Left to right: Kristen Rodriguez, Fox 29 Good Day Philadelphia co-host Mike Jerrick, Dr. John Chovanes, Jack Bender, and Sally Bender.

Cooper trauma surgeon Dr. John Chovanes (left) stands with Jack Bender (center), who gifted him a Marine Challenge Coin for saving his life, and Cooper trauma surgeon Dr. John Porter (right).

The Trauma Center at Cooper University Health Care was established in 1982 and is one of only three New Jersey State-Designated Level I Trauma Centers verified by the American College of Surgeons, the highest national recognition possible. Cooper serves as the regional Trauma Center for southern New Jersey including Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Mercer, Ocean and Salem counties and acts as a resource for the Level II Trauma Centers in our region. A Level I Trauma Center cares for severely injured patients involved in motor vehicle crashes, falls, industrial accidents and acts of violence. Specially trained physicians and surgeons focus on the care of the trauma patient. On average, Cooper admits nearly 3,500 trauma patients each year, making it the busiest center in New Jersey.

The Trauma Center at Cooper University Hospital is staffed 24 hours a day by in-house trauma surgeons, anesthesiologists, trauma nurses, on-call consultants and vital support services, including the blood bank, laboratory services and diagnostic radiology.

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