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April 07, 2014

Singer-songwriter creates a heart-rending tribute to her father and the Duke doctors who helped him.

“I remember the middle of the night, our driveway full of those flashing lights …”

So begins a song by Caitlin Linney, about her memories of her father’s heart attack when she was seven years old. Caitlin, now 25, is a singer-songwriter living in Los Angeles. She wrote the song not only to celebrate her father but also the physicians who helped save his life.

Caitlin recently created a video of the song, after asking her parents to send her digitized versions of home movies of her father and herself as a child. “It brought me to tears the first time I saw it. I was amazed,” says Elwood Linney, PhD, Caitlin’s father.

Elwood Linney, now 72, was a Duke researcher when he had his heart attack, and still works there today, as a professor of molecular genetics and microbiology. Because he knew Duke cardiologist William Kraus, MD, he asked to be his patient. As Caitlin created her video, she asked her father whom she should thank in the introduction. Her father told her how Kraus had helped him through many years as his cardiologist, and how Kevin Jackson, MD, another Duke cardiologist, had significantly improved his health by adjusting and then replacing his pacemaker.

“The combination of Bill Kraus, who has stuck with me, and Kevin Jackson, with his expertise, has allowed me to keep working here,” says Linney, from his lab at Duke.

Linney says that because of the video, he learned something he never knew about his daughter’s memories of that night. “I was unaware until Caitlin wrote the song that as a child she somehow took responsibility for my heart attack,” he says. “She thought it was her fault and felt guilty.”

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