John Mellencamp recently met the doctor who saved his life more than 60 years ago.
Born with spina bifida, a birth defect that causes an opening of the spinal column that can sometimes allow the spinal cord to grow or extend outside of the body, Mellencamp received a pioneering operation at the Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis in an attempt to correct the issue.
Last month, after more than 60 years, the singer finally met the doctor who saved him, reports CBS News correspondent Anthony Mason.
"I didn't even know I had the operation until some kid, I was about nine or 10, said 'what's that big scar on the back of your neck?' and I went home and asked my parents," said Mellencamp. "They said, 'oh, don't worry about it. You had an operation."
Last month, Mellencamp met Dr. Robert Heimburger, now 97, the neurosurgeon who performed the life-saving operation in 1951.
"He remembered it 'cause it was the first one they'd ever done," Mellencamp said.
In 1951, the singer was one of three babies at Riley with spina bifida. "They did three operations," he recalled. "One died on the table. Another girl lived, I think, 'til she was 14, and then she died. And then me." Dr. Heimburger's highly risky procedure took 18 hours.
Mellencamp and the doctor who saved him 62 years ago sat together for about an hour last month.
"Basically we talked about faith, 'cause I have very little faith in anything," Mellencamp said, adding that the doctor "just kept grabbing my hand and saying 'John, you need to have faith.'"
Mellencamp will start an 80-date tour beginning in January behind his new album, “Plain Spoken”; the final show of the trek will benefit the Riley Children's Foundation, which supports the hospital where he had the surgery as an infant.
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