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Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

Cardiology & Cardiac Surgery Archive

September 17th, 2015 · 2 Comments

The Flu, a Grocery Store Clinic and a Mayo Clinic Nurse May Have Saved My Life

By ronaldpetrovich Ronald Petrovich

Ron Petrovich with Nurse Practitioner Dawn Kaderabek.

My head pounded incessantly. With every sip of water, I felt like I was swallowing razor blades. I coughed and wheezed so hard that my stomach muscles ached. But as sick as I was, this would be one of my healthiest days, because a visit with a vigilant nurse practitioner at Mayo Clinic may have saved my life.

After feeling really crummy for several days last spring, lying in bed "drinking plenty of fluids," and hoping whatever was ailing me would pass, I decided that I had waited long enough. I visited Mayo Clinic Express Care at one of the Hy-Vee Grocery stores in Rochester, Minnesota. That's where Dawn Kaderabek, a Mayo Clinic nurse practitioner, diagnosed me with Influenza B. She also noticed something unusual.

While listening to my heart, she heard a whooshing sound and asked if I had ever been told about a murmur. I said no, I hadn't. She told me that murmurs are not always dangerous but recommended that I get this checked out sooner rather than later. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: bicuspid aortic valve, Cardiovascular Diseases, Heart Murmur, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, influenza, Patient Stories

September 11th, 2015 · 1 Comment

The Beat Goes On … for Tom Grady

By hoytfinnamore Hoyt Finnamore

A portrait of Tom GradyIn 1968, when I was just three months old, I was taken from my mother’s arms and rushed into emergency surgery. My skin tone turned to a sky blue color, and the doctors caring for me knew they needed to act fast if they wanted to save me. They needed to get oxygen to my vital organs, because my heart was failing.

The doctors did a temporary-fix surgery to improve my circulation and to buy them time in hopes that they would find a better solution. The surgery worked, but the question was: How long would it last?

Later that day, my mother was given words that no mother wants to hear. “Take him home to die,” the doctors told my mom. Four open-heart surgeries and 45 years later, I am still here, proving those doctors wrong.

I am happy that through science and research, there are now medical devices and surgical techniques that are much more high-tech than what they had to work with 45 years ago. My gray hairs prove that I, a Tetralogy of Fallot baby, am still alive into my adulthood years.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Congenital Heart Disease, Congenital Heart Walk, Tetralogy of Fallot

September 10th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Team Marrion Steps Out for Heart Health

By cindyweiss Cynthia (Cindy) Weiss

Katie and Marrion Ford. Every year, Katie Ford, who works at Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus, can be found with a plastic jar and a stack of donation envelopes, encouraging colleagues to support the activities of the American Heart Association. In particular, she urges them to sign up for the annual First Coast Heart Walk, which Mayo Clinic sponsors.

Heart disease runs in Ford’s family, which is why she’s so passionate about supporting the cause and spreading the word about cardiovascular health.

Although he was 74-years-old, Ford’s father hadn’t been to a doctor’s office his entire adult life. When her mother was able to convince him it was time for a checkup, his doctors immediately identified issues.

“The doctor found he was 75 percent blocked and said he was a ticking time bomb for a heart attack,” Katie says. Her dad received a stent, and all was well for a number of years. However, his condition progressed, and he had a pacemaker and defibrillator installed in August 2014.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Aortic Aneurysm, Cardiovascular Health, First Coast Heart Walk, Heart Disease

July 20th, 2015 · 3 Comments

Patient Comes to Mayo for Foot Surgery, Receives Lifesaving Surprise

By cindyweiss Cynthia (Cindy) Weiss

Virgil Jernigan is enjoying his retirement thanks to  surgery to repair a leaky mitral valve.When Virgil Jernigan came to Mayo Clinic for foot surgery, he was in for a lifesaving surprise. During an exam before his surgery, he mentioned to his nurse practitioner that he had been feeling fatigued and short of breath. So she ordered cardiac testing. Virgil was shocked to learn he had a leaking mitral valve – a potentially life-threatening heart condition.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: cardiac surgery, Cardiovascular Diseases, Mitral Valve Disease, Orthopedic Surgery

July 2nd, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Cardiac Rehabilitation Helps Ardis Kyker Improve Her Health, Lose Weight and Avoid Surgery

By hoytfinnamore Hoyt Finnamore

Ardis Kyker with her cardiac rehabilitation therapist, Whitney Quast.Back in 2014, Ardis Kyker was at home going about her daily routine when she experienced tightening in her chest. The pain went away as soon as she sat down to rest, so she proceeded with her day.

Later, while pushing a cart at a grocery store, the pain returned with more intensity. So Ardis checked in at the Emergency Department at Mayo Clinic Health System in Red Wing, Minnesota. While test results ruled out a heart attack, the team in the Emergency Department scheduled her for a stress test because of the pain she was feeling on exertion. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Cardiac Rehabilitation, Coronary Artery Disease, Mayo Clinic Health System, Red Wing

June 26th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

From Patient to Physician

By hoytfinnamore Hoyt Finnamore

Dr. Brandon Phillips with a young patient. Dr. Brandon Lane Phillips' experience as a patient and a student at Mayo Clinic influences his own practice of medicine today

As a pediatric cardiology fellow at Mayo Clinic, Dr. Brandon Lane Phillips cared for a number of children from Mongolia who had congenital heart defects. Before they went into surgery, he would take a photo of their hands next to his on a white piece of paper. He would do the same again after surgery and before they returned home.

The difference was striking. "In the pictures before heart surgery, you could clearly see a blue cast to their skin. After surgery, the blue was gone," he says. "That really hit home for me."

It made an impact because Dr. Phillips is not only a physician who specializes in pediatric cardiology, he's also been a pediatric cardiology patient.

"Many of the kids who came to us from Mongolia had the same heart defect I did: tetralogy of Fallot," he says. "They were often close to their teenage years and had never undergone surgery. These children were usually quite blue. They couldn't walk very far. It was a glimpse of what would have happened to me without the medical attention I received.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Medicine, Pediatric Cardiology, Pulmonary Valve Surgery, Tetralogy of Fallot

June 4th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Transplant Change-Up Gives Courtney a Second Chance

By hoytfinnamore Hoyt Finnamore

Courtney Kidd in her hospital room after transplant surgery. Courtney Kidd is working hard to raise organ donor awareness after a new approach to double-organ transplant saved her life.

Born with five congenital heart defects and suffering through several medical complications, Courtney needed both a new heart and a new liver. Previous surgeries at ages 2, 6, 12 and then again at 22, and numerous blood transfusions over the years, had caused her immune system to develop high levels of antibodies that would attack and reject foreign tissues.

She was told that her risk of organ rejection was too high if she received a heart and liver transplant in the usual order. Her Mayo Clinic doctors, however, turned her dire situation into an advantage, and she was one of the first in the world to receive an organ transplant in a way that was likely her only chance to survive.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: congenital heart defect, Heart Transplant, liver transplant, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center

May 29th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Mayo, Hands for Humanity Form Village to Save Little Aisha

By hoytfinnamore Hoyt Finnamore

With the help of Mayo Clinic and Hands for Humanity, Aisha has a repaired heart, new glasses and  hope for the future. In April 2013, the International Services Office at Mayo Clinic received a copy of an article from a Gambian newspaper. In the article, a father begged for help for his 2-year-old daughter, Aisha. She was born with a ventricular septal defect – a hole in the heart that occurs in the wall that separates the heart’s lower chambers. Large ventricular septal defect require surgery to prevent complications.

Aisha needed a heart surgery that no hospitals in her home country could perform, and the family was unable to raise the funds for her to travel elsewhere for care. Eventually, her uncle reached out to Mayo Clinic for help.

Frank Cetta Jr., M.D., a Mayo Clinic pediatric cardiologist, reviewed the case and gladly accepted it. Then the International Appointment Office went to work to find a Mayo-sponsored charity that would fund her care. Cindy Kendall of the International Office called Kate Welp, a nurse in Cardiovascular Surgery, who also founded the nonprofit Hands for Humanity. Without hesitation, Welp agreed to sponsor Aisha and her family.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: cardiac surgery, Del Wibben, Dr. Allison Cabalka, Dr Brian Mohoney, Dr Eric Towe, Dr Frank Cetta Jr, Dr Joseph Dearani, Humanitarian Outreach, International Medicine, Kate Welp, Mayo Clinic Children's Center, Pediatric Cardiology, Ventricular Septal Defect

March 27th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

An Unexpected Stop in Lake City Provides Comfort and a Smooth Transition Home

By hoytfinnamore Hoyt Finnamore

Bob Boehmer connects with his care team in Rochester via a telemedicine link. Gail and Bob Boehmer recall driving through Lake City, Minnesota, many times on their way to northern Wisconsin, where they first met. Neither of them ever imagined the town on Lake Pepin would become a home away from home.

The Waterloo, Iowa, couple recently spent six weeks in Lake City. It wasn’t something they’d planned. But then life happened. And after three helicopter rides and multiple surgeries at Mayo Clinic, Bob found himself in need of just the kind of healing environment Mayo Clinic Health System in Lake City offers through the Mayo Transitional Care program. The program provides patients recovering from major illness or surgery with transitional nursing care and therapy until they’re ready to go back home.

Although uncertain at first, the Boehmers say Lake City’s connection with Mayo Clinic not only helped Bob heal but also eased their minds and lifted their spirits.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: cardiac surgery, Cardiovascular Diseases, Dr Peter Noseworthy, Dr Steven Moran, Dr Thomas Bower, Lake City, telemedicine, Transitional Care

February 6th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Mayo Patient, Staffer Run Phoenix 10K Together

By hoytfinnamore Hoyt Finnamore

Don Salamone  and Linda Staley run in 10K race. Mayo Clinic patient Don Salamone is proof that being in great shape before undergoing a heart transplant can enhance recovery. Even while tethered to a ventricular assist device that kept his heart functioning until the transplant surgery, he pushed himself to work out on a stationary bike for two hours daily and walked several miles on a treadmill.

While he could handily beat the competition in races before he received the implanted device, he couldn’t beat viral cardiomyopathy, which makes it harder for your heart to pump and deliver blood to the rest of your body, and can lead to heart failure.

Don underwent his heart transplant surgery in October 2012. True to his mission, he spent only eight days in the hospital following the surgery.

“I made a pledge to be in good shape before the surgery and to always honor my responsibility to my donor to take care of this heart,” Don says. As a result, within days of his surgery, he was up early, walking laps, training and eventually competing in numerous runs in Arizona and elsewhere.

Fast forward to Jan. 16, 2015. Now close to age 60, Don was living his promise. He was at the 10K starting line at the popular P.F. Chang’s Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in Phoenix, where some 30,000 athletes participated.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Arizona Campus, cardiomyopathy, Heart Transplant, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center