Krista Vernoff Shares Her Father's Story Through Death of Harold O'Malley

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George Dzundza and T.R. Knight
We've received multiple emails regarding the message appearing before the end credits of "Six Days (Part II)," which read "In Memory of Bob Verne."

This man is not the actor who played Harold O'Malley, whose name is George Dzundza (pictured, with T.R. Knight). It is the father of Krista Vernoff, executive producer of Grey's Anatomy and one of its principal writers. In writing the two-part "Six Days" story line, Vernoff drew upon her own experience with her dad's short, losing battle with esophageal cancer.

Bob Verne's story is told through Harold O'Malley, and Krista's grief is shown, in part, through George. Here's what Vernoff has to say about it on her official blog about the episode:


The card at the end [of "Six Days"] was a tribute to my father. He died six years ago at the age of 56 after a very short battle with esophageal cancer. He called me one day at my office at Charmed and told me he thought he had the flu. A week after that he had surgery on a massive tumor at the base of his esophagus.

Before the surgery he was laughing and celebrating with family. He had a profoundly positive attitude. After the surgery, he had a massive scar down his belly and was intubated and pale, and upon seeing him, I, who thought of myself as quite strong and educated and capable of handling that moment, started to shake and then hyperventilate and had to be helped out of the room.

During the week we waited for him to recover, we learned that kidney function was of the utmost importance and I became obsessed, absolutely obsessed with his urine output. I checked that urine bag like 50 times a day.

At one point, the doctors gathered the family to tell us that my Dad had a kink in his breathing tube and that they might not be able to get a new one in. They told us we needed to prepare ourselves for the possibility that this was it. We stood out in the hallway and waited, holding our breath, terrified.

There was another family there in the hallway, the family of a 16 year old boy who'd been shot on the street on his way home from work in what was feared to be gang related violence, though his family insisted that he was a good kid, that he wasn't in any gang.

They were as scared as we were as they waited for news of condition. We talked to them for awhile, made small talk, then fell silent. And after a long, pregnant pause, one of the teenagers of the family looked over at a member of my family with a very disturbed look on his face. And then he said "Dang. Somebody just farted. And I think it's this old white guy right here." My family laughed harder than we have ever laughed in our lives. And my dad lived through the reintubation.

He lived for three more days.

When the surgeon sat us down to tell us that it was time to let him go, he explained that Dad had come to him â€" behind our backs â€" on his way into the OR actually â€" and begged him to proceed with the tumor removal no matter what. My Dad believed, truly believed, that he could fight that caner, that he could live, if only they would remove the tumor.

The surgeon did as he wished. And I have yet to completely forgive that surgeon for that decision. Because my dad's body was riddled with cancer. Plus he had a liver condition and a heart condition. There was pretty much no way for him to recover from a surgery that traumatic. And the surgeon knew that. I believe in forgiveness, I do. I'm a fervent and avid believer that resentment, unchecked, leads to illness and spiritual misery. But I also believe that that surgeon cut my dad in half because he wanted the practice. It wasn't the right call.

He knew better. My Dad didn't. The scene in which George yells at Bailey and Richard - that scene didn't happen in my life. Writing and shooting that scene was wish fulfillment for me. What happened in my life is, we went into my Dad's ICU and put our hands on his body and sang him Beatles songs while the nurses turned off the machines.

When they pulled the intubation tubes from his mouth, my sister and I put our faces to his mouth so we could feel the last of his breath. And then he died. And I became a member of the Dead Dad's club.

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.


I know Bob Verne, I confess I researched a lot on google about it, and I do not know who it was, I would conhecelo if anyone has any photos to send to me, very moving story touched my feelings ..


Não conheço Bob Verne, confesso que pesquisei muito no google a respeito dele, e nem sei quem era, gostaria de conhecelo, se alguem tiver alguma foto para me mandar, história muito comovente, tocou meus sentimentos..


i love it it's my favorite serial


I was crying during this episode, my dad died when I was young.. and I felt exactly like George...


my father died a few months ago... i feel exactly as george.


This story was so similiar to my own Dad's story (age 62) and battle with EC. My Dad even looked liked George's Dad... I of course knew what the outcome would be after seeing what my father went thru. My Dad was never sick a day in his life. The day I flew in to Phoenix for a visit, I took one look at him and knew he was dying. Dad lived 6 weeks after his surprising diagnosis...if one lesson can be learned thru the saddest of circumstances, is to get checked if someone in your family has died from this deadly disease. The doctor told my Dad that his cancer was from undiagnosed acid reflux disease. (not all forms are, but Dad's was). Luckily I have a fantastic doctor who, even though I (age 42) had no symptoms of acid reflux like Dad, insisted I have a scope done. Surprise...I too have the lowest form of Barrett's Esop., a precancerous condition which can eventually lead to EC. I am now taking meds everyday to prevent this from happening. If we only knew...thank you for bringing to light one of the fastest growing and deadliest cancers. Maybe we can save some lives in the process of our grief.
God bless,


My fatehr passed away in September 06 from Esophagus cancer! I couldn't cry for months becasue i was so numb and in shock! But once i watched Grey's and when he said "I don't know a life without my dad" i was crying and couldn't stop! It brings it all back the raw feelings of all the times in the hospital, all the moments you think how am i gonna get through this, or most of all how can i ever recover from my family memebers going through such a crisis! Till this day i honestly don't know how i will ever move past all those feelings but you do it day by day! I hated the fact that i had joined the Dead dad's Club! Not something you would ever want to join!


the ending was very sad. was crying like a baby. my little sister saw me when i went to get some tissue and she felt bad for me and came to hug me. i told her that i was ok...that something sad just happened in the show that i was watching. she told me to stop crying or else she would start crying to. i had to force myself to stop. it was so sad....expected it...but was still praying that he would fight...just a bit harder. when they were taking out the tubes i kept watching george and saying "all he wanted to do was fight...thats all...he didnt know that he wouldnt be able to...he just wanted to be there longer for u guys"
afterwards learning that it was based on a true story was even more horrible. Krita i am sorry about your loss. but u know least u had a dad to share your life with :-) . some of us joined the dead dads club at child birth....and the funny thing is they are still alive. accept my sympathy. bye.
great show by the way!


thanks for your inspiring article.
my heart is broken!
we lost my father in law to kidney cancer when he was 52.
what an amazing man-like i am sure your father was.
thanks for reminding us to appreciate our family when we can.


Great show! I also lost my father in sept of 02. Nothing has ever been the same since then. I miss him dearly. Your show is amazing!


Grey's Anatomy Quotes

Did you say it? 'I love you. I don't ever want to live without you. You changed my life.' Did you say it? Make a plan. Set a goal. Work toward it, but every now and then, look around; Drink it in 'cause this is it. It might all be gone tomorrow."

Meredith (closing voiceover)

Burke was- He took something from me. He took little pieces of me, little pieces over time, so small I didn't even notice, you know? He wanted me to be something I wasn't, and I made myself into what he wanted. One day I was me Cristina Yang, and then suddenly I was lying for him, and jeopardizing my career, and agreeing to be married and wearing a ring, and being a bride. Until I was standing there in a wedding dress with no eyebrows, and I wasn't Cristina Yang anymore. And even then, I would've married him. I would have. I lost myself for a long time. And now that I'm finally me again, I can't. I love you. I love you more than I loved Burke. I love you. And that scares the crap out of me because when you asked me to ignore Teddy's page, you took a piece of me, and I let you. And that will never happen again.