Sharing Mayo Clinic

Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

Cardiology & Cardiac Surgery Archive

June 26th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

From Patient to Physician

By 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 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 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 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 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


February 2nd, 2015 · Leave a Comment

An Extension of the Heart

By Hoyt Finnamore

Marla Burkhart with her son, Noah.Marla Burkhart’s heart was functioning at roughly 30 percent when she was rushed to the hospital for an emergency cesarean section eight weeks before the due date of her first child. After she and her husband had chosen a name for their child, she placed her faith in her heart and the support of a network of family, friends, co-workers and Mayo Clinic staff, as baby Noah was rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, or NICU, and Marla, to the Critical Cardiac Care Unit.

Just three hours prior to the surgery, Marla had been diagnosed with peripartum cardiomyopathy, a rare pregnancy-related heart condition. Occurring in roughly 1 in 3,000 deliveries, it is the result of an enlarged, weakened heart. The condition is generally diagnosed during the last months of pregnancy and causes inefficient blood circulation.

Marla originally thought her symptoms were just normal changes resulting from her pregnancy. Even when her legs gave out at eight weeks, she shrugged it off. She had problems sleeping due to shortness of breath, and she eventually had to sleep upright.

Marla switched to Mayo Clinic from another provider in the middle of her pregnancy because she had struggled with becoming pregnant in the past and says she wanted the best possible care. At her 32-week appointment, she described her continued discomfort to her physician. An ECG revealed an abnormality. She was shocked by the diagnosis. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: cardiomyopathy, Go Red for Women, Heart Month, NICU


January 2nd, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Becoming Whole Again After Cancer Treatment

By Susana Shephard

Kristine Long, a patient at Mayo Clinic's Arizona campus, has had an incredible journey as a three-time Hodgkin's lymphoma survivor. In the course of her struggle, she has also overcome congestive heart failure and subsequent voice impairment.

In the video below, she explains how the care provided by her Mayo Clinic physicians, James Slack, M.D., a hematologist; D. Eric Steidley, M.D., a cardiologist; and David Lott, M.D., an otorhinolaryngologist, along with their care teams, has made her a whole person again. She also talks before and after repair to her vocal chords about what that procedure has meant to her personally and how it's given her renewed confidence as well as giving her voice back.



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Tags: Hodgkins lymphoma, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Voice Impairment, Arizona Campus


November 5th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

Not Ready to Slow Down

By Hoyt Finnamore

A second opinion at Mayo Clinic helped Harold Magy return to the active schedule he loves

Harold and Judy Magy enjoying a fall day in Minnesota.For years, Harold Magy was familiar with the inner workings of Mayo Clinic. As a mechanical engineer for more than two decades with a company that frequently worked with Mayo, he knew the ins and outs of many of the clinic’s complex mechanical systems in Rochester, Minnesota. But during that time, he was never a patient at Mayo, and he never thought he would be.

"I have had heart problems for a long time," says Harold. "I always took care of it with my local doctors. I didn't think about going anywhere else."

That changed in the summer of 2013. Harold's health had slowly deteriorated to a point that he had very little energy and spent most of his time at home. His wife, Judy, ultimately insisted he seek another opinion about the best treatment for his heart condition. Today, Harold is extremely grateful for his wife's persistence. Thanks to a revamped treatment plan developed by his physicians at Mayo Clinic, now at age 88, Harold has returned to working and teaching on a regular basis.

"Since I went to Mayo Clinic, I've gotten better and better," he says. "I feel mentally sharp, and I'm back to doing what I love." Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Heart Failure, Cardiovascular Diseases, Patient Stories


June 11th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

Near-death experience brings second chance, new calling

By Hoyt Finnamore

Nancy Capelle with emergency medical technician Mike Szumagala, whose quick actions helped save her life.

Nancy Capelle with emergency medical technician Mike Szumagala, whose quick actions helped save her life.

On May 14, 2011, Nancy Capelle, a wife and mother of two young daughters, clinically died at the age of 40. She suffered spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD), a condition that blocks blood flow to the heart causing a heart attack, abnormalities in heart rhythm and sudden death. But thanks to the quick actions of a paramedic, she is alive today to tell her harrowing story of life and death.

What was so hard for Nancy to comprehend following her medical emergency, she says, was that in a blink of an eye and without warning, healthy young women can be stricken by SCAD and die. Yet it didn’t appear from her research into the condition that the medical community was actively researching the tragic phenomenon. Perhaps it was because it was considered so rare that support for such a study would be difficult to find, she thought, or that finding enough SCAD survivors would be even more problematic.

Then Nancy came across an article in the Aug. 30, 2011, edition of The Wall Street Journal titled, “When Patients Band Together -- Using Social Networks To Spur Research for Rare Diseases; Mayo Clinic Signs On.” For Nancy, this article changed the dark face of SCAD dramatically, and she would find herself and many other young women just like her able to see daylight again. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Cardiovascular Diseases, clinical trials, Dr Sharrone Hayes, heart attack, Heart Disease, SCAD, Social Media


May 23rd, 2014 · Leave a Comment

Healthy Lifestyle Doesn’t Always Eliminate Risk of Heart Disease

By Paul Scotti

of 67 year-old Donald Glynn of Jacksonville, Fla., an avid runner who participated in countless marathons, half marathons and 5K races over the last 30 years.Sometimes even doing everything right to live a healthy lifestyle isn’t enough to ward off a serious illness.

Such was the case of 67-year-old Donald Glynn of Jacksonville, Fla., an avid runner who has participated in countless marathons, half marathons and 5K races over the last 30 years. He also watched his diet, weight and blood pressure, and did most of the things you’d expect of someone who led a healthy lifestyle. But Donald, who worked as a surgical assistant at Mayo Clinic in both Rochester and Florida before his retirement, neglected one thing — regular checkups. Given his family’s history of heart disease (his mother, grandmother and grandfather all had it), that turned out to be a serious mistake.

After experiencing an irregular heart rate earlier this year, Donald was shocked to learn that his arteries were severely blocked and that he’d need a heart transplant. His condition was serious enough that while waiting for a new heart, he’d need to have a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implanted to help his damaged heart function properly.

“Needless to say, given my lifestyle and being a runner for so many years, I was stunned to hear about the condition of my heart,” he says. “I thought I was doing everything right, but given my family history, it apparently wasn’t enough.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Donald Glynn, Dr Daniel Yip, Florida, Heart Disease, lvad, MayoClinicFL, Patient Stories, transplant