TYLER, TX (KLTV) - U.S. leaders expressed condolences to the people of Saudi Arabia upon the death of King Abdullah on Thursday. Sympathy for the 90-year-old late king has poured in from all corners of the world, including right here in East Texas where King Abdullah had a strong connection.
“We had many conversations at the foot of his bed or during our travels around the world. So, I knew him in a different way. I knew him in a way that wasn't known by Hillary Clinton or President Obama,” says Dr. Kevin Pauza, founding partner and principal owner of Texas Spine and Joint Hospital in Tyler.
Dr. Pauza says he first met King Abdullah more than four years ago.
“I was introduced to him through his panel of medical experts. The king had 30 physicians who oversee all of his care, and they chose me to be his spine physician,” he says.
Members of the royal family visited Tyler in 2010 to test Dr. Pauza's groundbreaking spinal treatment.
“I developed a biologic that instigates the regrowth of a disc. They're better now. They're happy. So, that caused them to say 'we'd like you treat the king because we know it works, and we trust you.' That's what started it. Once I gave the king relief, he took me into his fold,” says Dr. Pauza.
Since then, he says his relationship with the king continued to grow.
“The king truly is a gentle person and very focused on progression and developing Western ideas,” he says.
And the royal family's made several more visits.
“The entire royal family loves Texas. They love East Texas because it's unlike the cities where they have to deal with paparazzi or other people. We have very friendly people here. They're not accustomed to everyone saying 'yes ma'am,' 'no ma'am.' They like that,” he says.
Although King Abdullah was laid to rest on Friday, Dr. Pauza says he'll continue to have a close bond with Saudi Arabia.
“They truly are wonderful people. King Abdullah made a royal decree so that anybody within his immediate family must see me if they have a spine problem before they're allowed to see another spine physician,” he says.