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.


This show is unparalleled in excellence! I only wish that Burke and George had not had that spat in real life. The knowledge that they clashed offset, was a distraction for me when George was asking Burke for his opinion during last night's episode. I would like to think that they are as close in real life as they are in the show.


as a member of the dead dad's club myself - the last 15-20 mintues of this show hit home. I knew George's dad was going to die, but I didnt think i was going to replay the memories of my own father's death while watching. I thank you for sharing this episode and your own heartbreak with us, the audience. Sometimes we need to be reminded that it's okay to cry...and its okay to unsure of how to survive in a world where the person you love, the person you wish you could save, does not.


omg! cried my heart out soooo much even during the time when bailey and webber had to explain to the family that there's nothing more they could do till christina went out to talk to george... oh gash... i saw the trailer and was preparing myself for that but when it was actually playing already, i thought i was prepared but damn! tears were just coming out and i couldn't stop them! gash! i really feel for you... so much... and well, so for george too... awww... sorry too that you had to go through such...but really, that was a great job! great job! and you were very brave to be willing to share that heartbreaking moment again with the viewers... you touched our lives...


i thought this was an amazing show and loved the writing. i cried the whole episode. My father had kidney cancer about 6 years ago...luckly they got it quick when they were doing an ultrasound for something. Kinday cancer usually has no cure and survival once it is diagnosed. my dad was lucky they took his kidney out and he his cancer dad reminds me alot of georges dad in appearance so this was a hard episode to watch....
sorry that the writer had to go through this in real life.....


My husband and I have different dad situations. My dad died from lung cancer 6 years ago and his dad is in the later stages of alzheimers in a nursing home. This episode brought us both to tears. It is hard to believe that a tv show can bring out so much emotion to viewers. I think that the actor that played George's dad is to be commended. I said out loud last night that I did not want to lose that character, he was so much fun. Keep Georges family coming back even for a little while so the viewers can greive a little. Silly huh?
Terri Creedon


I cried thru the last 15-20 minutes of the show...I'm still in shock, and can't believe that such good writing and acting can be done...I've never cried for a show. Until this show, I've know cried twice, once when Deny died but this one was so real and true. and when the wife went to go kiss him on the mounth one last time, that was painfell. I'm truely sorry for you losing your Father that way. As the comment before me says, "it has to give some relief to relive it and make your own ending!".


I was crying and I was trying to prepare myself for that. I liked that Christina went to talk to him once he came out of the room, I thought that was appropiate. I am sorry that someone actually had to lose a loved one in that manner, but it has to give some relief to relive it and make your own ending!


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.