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A new heart valve got me back in the saddle.
Kevin Kirksey felt he was in great health, until he learned the results of his coronary calcium test. "The cardiologist had never seen scores that high," he explains, an indication of plaque buildup on his artery walls. Cardiac catheterization confirmed three severe blockages. "My only option was triple bypass surgery," says Kevin, "and I chose to have it at a Baylor Health Care System hospital." He chose Baylor for his cardiac rehabilitation, too. "I feel like I experienced the gold standard in cardiac care — before, during and after my procedure."
Mark Allison thought he just dozed off for a bit. Little did he know, he had suffered from congestive heart failure and was rushed to the hospital, where physicians were concerned about the weakness of his heart. Mark's physicians decided to perform hypothermia therapy to allow his body more time to heal, and they also placed an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), to help his heart continue to function properly.
More than one in three men have some form of heart disease. And children of parents with heart disease are more likely to develop it themselves, according to the American Heart Association. No one knows this better than Greg Smith, who had his heart attack last February at the age of 47. Greg's father had his first bypass surgery at the age of 42, and his grandfather lost his life to a heart attack while in his 50s. Greg chose The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano when told he needed quintuple bypass surgery. "I had advanced beating heart surgery and came through with flying colors," Greg says.
Between 70 and 89 percent of cardiac events occur in men.* Chris Shallcross never dreamt he was at risk. At 27 years old, the teacher and volunteer firefighter was told during a routine allergy check-up that he needed to see a cardiologist immediately. Tests revealed he needed to have mitral valve repair surgery sooner rather than later. Chris chose The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano for his surgery and the cardiac rehabilitation that followed. "The care at the hospital was amazing," he says, and thanks to a customized rehab program, Chris is once again doing the two things he loves: teaching special education and fighting fires.
Vicki Meyer had always had heart valve problems. But when every step she took became harder she knew her quality of life was diminishing. In August 2008 Vicki received corrective surgery for mitral valve prolapse that, as she described it, "has made a huge difference." "I've been in and out of hospitals my whole life, but by far this is the best experience I've ever had," Vicki says.
Steve Roberts blamed work-related stress for a tired feeling he couldn't shake. Following a test to evaluate blood flow to his heart, Steve entered The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano for a diagnostic catheterization. Two coronary arteries were 75% blocked; two others were 80% blocked. "If it weren't for the physicians on the medical staff at The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano and the nurses and staff at the hospital, I wouldn't be alive today," Steve says before adding, "Be sure you know where The Heart Hospital is located and go there if you ever need heart care."
John Blair was diagnosed with an abdominal aortic aneurysm and was referred to The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano in September 2008 for corrective surgery. The condition "was getting to be an emergency," John explains, but it was caught in time. Dorothy, his wife of 63 years, recalls being impressed with the entire experience. "It was like he was the only patient in this hospital. Everyone was so attentive," she says. Their daughter was impressed, too. "My daughter said it was like being in a hotel," Dorothy says. "And she's a nurse practitioner, so she's been in a lot of hospitals."
Since I am allowed to name only one person as having been a "star player" on the Baylor Heart team, I would have to pick Larissa, a nurse on the third floor. On Veterans Day of 2007, I was allowed to attend Veterans Day services on the front lawn of your establishment. Larissa bundled me up, then she and others took me outside and parked my wheelchair in order for me to see and hear the presentation of the event. Larissa brought an umbrella with her down to the services. It started raining, and gentlemen, LARISSA STOOD IN THE RAIN IN ORDER TO PROVIDE SHELTER FOR ME. That is the single most selfless thing I have ever seen a person do for another. As I sat there in that wheelchair, I watched this kindhearted and absolutely compassionate lady get soaked while I sat there dry and warm. If I live to be a thousand years old, I will NEVER forget what happened that day, nor will I ever forget any of the new friends I made during my prolonged stay at Baylor Heart, Plano. I am planning on making a habit of stopping off at your hospital now and again to say hello and "thank you so very much" to the best damned group of medical health-care providers in this or any other universe. I look forward to seeing each of you!!!!!!!!!!
May 27, 2009
February 1, 2008