Story Chair Supports Colorectal Research
Joey Story expresses gratitude for many things, including her husband of 22 years, three lovely stepdaughters, an exciting life traveling in the Far East, and good health. She credits colorectal surgeon Feza Remzi, MD, with the latter.
To show their appreciation, Mr. and Mrs. Story have established the Ed and Joey Story Endowed Chair in Colorectal Surgery at Cleveland Clinic, and Dr. Remzi is to be the first chair holder.
Complications from Surgery
Mrs. Story, 57, has had colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease, since she was 28. For many years, she says she “never suffered greatly” because she took excellent care of herself through proper diet and exercise.
However, this changed in January 2003 when a colonoscopy revealed a problem that required removal of her colon. A surgeon in Houston, where the couple lives, opted to perform a one-step, J-pouch surgery, in which the colon is removed and an internal pouch is created from the small intestine. The intent of one-step surgery is to avoid the need for further operations.
However, Mrs. Story had serious surgical complications that led to 21 additional procedures. When it was recommended that she go to Cleveland Clinic for corrective surgery, she was reluctant.
Her father, a patient at Cleveland Clinic for five years, had died there when she was 12 years old and living in Kentucky.
“I hadn’t been back to Cleveland since then,” she says. “My sisters and friends wanted me to go. I looked at it as, ‘Cleveland killed him.’ But my sisters looked at it as, ‘Cleveland kept him alive for five years.’”
'Blessing in Disguise'
Her views changed when, coincidentally, the only day that Dr. Remzi was available to perform her surgery was the 41st anniversary of her father’s death. She calls this “a blessing in disguise,” because she now associates that date with something positive.
Since her surgery, Mrs. Story says, she has had no problems or pain.
“And now, I have a love of Cleveland,” she says.
Before endowing the chair, the Storys had made a gift to Cleveland Clinic for research “to keep what happened to me from happening to others,” she says.
Endowed Chair Helps Advance Research, Education
The new endowed chair will further that effort by supporting research on the J-pouch procedure, including the expansion of the pelvic pouch database. Dr. Remzi’s compassionate approach to patient care and his interest in research and education impressed the couple from the start, Mr. Story says. “We think Dr. Remzi is a brilliant surgeon, a great leader and a great person,” he says.
Dr. Remzi says he and his department are grateful for the gift.
“The chair will provide the resources to conduct our studies and explore issues related to ulcerative colitis and the ileal pouch procedure, as well as education.”
Education includes spreading the word that patients who need an ileal pouch procedure “have the best chance when it’s done right the first time,” he says. “It’s very prudent to have these procedures done in centers where any complications can be handled – tertiary care centers that do a high volume of these procedures.”
Cleveland Clinic performs approximately 150 to 200 ileal pouch procedures per year and has done more than 3,000 total.
“We have the highest volume in the world, and we share our outcomes with our patients and the scientific community,” Dr. Remzi says.
The Storys once again are enjoying their travels. Mr. Story is founder, President and Chief Executive of Soco International, an oil and gas exploration and production company headquartered in London. His business often takes the couple to Vietnam. They also own a condominium in Mongolia, and their favorite place to visit is Bangkok, Thailand.
“We both love traveling, hotels and room service,” Mrs. Story says.
They also have fun riding elephants in Thailand, where Mr. Story is a fierce competitor in elephant polo. While Cleveland may not be the focus of their travels, Mrs. Story now receives all of her healthcare at Cleveland Clinic. She believes that this particular destination helps make all of her other travels possible.
“I have a wonderful life!” she says and smiles broadly.
To make a gift supporting the Digestive Disease Institute or any area of Cleveland Clinic, visit iSupport, our secure online giving site, or call Institutional Relations and Development at 216.444.1245 or toll-free at 800.223.2273, ext. 41245.
Digestive Disease Institute
Story originally featured in Catalyst, Spring 2008.