It’s a story of a miracle. But not just any kind – one that brought a life into the world.
One man, who never thought he would be able to have a child of his own, traveled 2,200 miles from a small Mississippi town to the Bay Area on Thursday for a special reunion, not with family or friends, but with a doctor.
“If it wasn’t for Dr. Lee, it wouldn’t be possible,” Mike Moore said.
He took a moment, choking up as he looked at the 6-month-old baby sitting in his wife’s lap.
“If the story can help anybody, I want anybody who had to go through what I went through to know it’s possible to have a child,” Moore said.
To fully understand Moore’s story, rewind to when he was just 7 years old.
Doctors discovered he had an infection that prevented him from urinating properly. That led to a circumcision, but the procedure was botched, spreading another infection, forcing doctors to amputate. For years, Moore had to live without normal anatomy.
Moore fell into a deep depression – until seven years ago, when he met Dr. Gordon Lee, who specializes in reconstructive plastic surgery at Stanford Medical Center.
Moore had been disappointed by failed surgery attempts at reconstruction, but after speaking with Lee, decided to give it one last shot.
It was the shot that counted.
The doctor was able to successfully reconstruct Moore’s penis using tissue from his thigh. It was the second time Lee had ever performed the surgery.
“His story is, as far as I know, a first in the world for a totally reconstructed penis to go and have a baby,” Lee said.
Lee said Stanford is a world leader in the field, performing roughly 500 major reconstructive complex surgeries every year, 200 of which involve intricate microsurgery.
Those procedures range from reconstruction of the esophagus to allow people to eat again, fixing cleft lips and palates, separating conjoined twins and saving limbs, avoiding amputation.
“What we do in plastic surgery is not so much life-saving, but it is life-giving,” described Lee.
It was evident even six months after little Memphis was born. Moore became emotional as he talked about the first time he held his first-born son in his arms.
“I wasn’t saying anything to him. I didn’t know what to say to him,” Moore said through tears. “I think my first word was ‘munchkin.’ For the rest of my life, I’ll call him munchkin.”
A munchkin superhero, you could say. Mom and Dad dressed little Memphis in all Superman gear, down to shoes adorned with little red capes.
“I bought him Superman stuff because I knew he was a miracle,” Moore said. “I love the symbol.”
And of course, Dad was wearing a matching shirt.
For him, the story has come just about full circle. He said he first learned of Lee after his uncle saw a news story about his work.
Moore is hoping that going public with his story will give hope to others who have abandoned faith that their lives could ever be “normal.”
He pointed to Memphis as the best example of how life can become just that – and even more.
“It’s hope," Moore said. "For him to be here, something had to go right.”