KINGMAN - Three years ago, Dr. Kenneth Jackson was on-call when he received a call about a woman 38-weeks pregnant and in cardiac arrest.
There was no chance for the mother, and doctors had to work fast to save the life of the unborn baby. Jackson opened up the woman in the emergency room. In those types of situations, the baby would have a one-in-one million chance of survival, he said.
Ten minutes after he began the procedure and delivered the infant, Jackson heard the baby crying. The doctor then went to the sink to wash his face and hide the fact that he was crying, too. The incident, Jackson said, was easily the defining moment of his career - and maybe for another young doctor as well.
"I had a student with me looking over my shoulder the whole time," Jackson said. "I think that sealed the deal for him."
While Jackson, 61, said delivering children is important, he said that it is the relationships he develops with mothers during a life-changing time that he really enjoys. Those close relationships he fosters with patients may be one of the reasons why Jackson was recently given the 2009 Patients' Choice Award, a title given to less than 5 percent of the nation's active physicians.
"When I first heard about (the award), I said 'Is this for real?'" Jackson said.
"I like to make patients feel like they belong here."
The award is based on high patient approval ratings on various components of a doctor's practice, such as bedside manner, doctor-patient face time, degree of follow-up, courtesy of office staff and overall opinions.
Jackson is so committed to patient care that once a month for the last 15 years he has ridden his horse into the Supai Village at the base of the Grand Canyon to give prenatal care.
The area is only accessible by helicopter or horseback. Jackson also treats patients in Peach Springs twice a month.
Jackson began his career at the Indian Health Service hospital on the White Mountain Apache Reservation in Whiteriver, Ariz. He spent five years there before transferring to Pinetop, Ariz., where he spent another 10 years before coming to Kingman in 1991. In his 35-year medical career, Jackson estimates that he's delivered some 4,000 babies.
He also logged hundreds of miles outside of work traversing Arizona on horseback. In 1994, he crossed the state west to east on horseback. Last year, he did it again with two other riders, this time north to south.
In February, the doctor will release his first book, a Southwestern suspense novel titled "Manifest West."
Jackson said his work, while risky, is overwhelmingly rewarding. "There's always a little bit of risk," he said.
"There's always a chance that things can fall apart. When I go home at 3 or 4 in the morning after delivering a baby, I feel worthy."