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Patient stories



Connie Ricklefs' Heart Story

Connie Ricklefs suffered a heart attack just five days after giving birth at age 37.

'A Silent Killer': Jon Wait's Story

John Wait and childrenOne minute Jon Wait, 48, was falling asleep on his couch and the next thing he knew severe chest pain was waking him up on the night of Jan. 27, 2018. His son, Tristan, 15, called an ambulance while his daughter, Sydney, 12, told him everything was going to be OK.

"I was having pain inside my chest, directly behind my sternum with it driving back to behind my shoulder blade, but a test showed I was not having a heart attack," he said.

At 48, and in otherwise good health, Wait's pain could have been attributed to a panic attack. But what happened next saved his life.

"Fortunately, we ran another test—just to be certain," said Michael Gibson, M.D., Liberty Cardiothoracic Surgeons. "That test revealed an aortic dissection, creating a surgical emergency."

Dr. Gibson performed open heart surgery to repair Wait's aorta. "This is a silent killer," Wait said. "There were no symptoms. I just woke up in pain. If they hadn't found this, I wouldn't be here today."

Wait said he is grateful for the team at Liberty Hospital. "Dr. Gibson and the Liberty Hospital team saved my life. I am forever grateful."

'I Wanted Somebody to Hold My Hand': Angela Mindrup's Story

Angela Mindrup and daughterAngelina Mindrup was only 19 when she contracted a staph infection that led to Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). It is a rapidly progressive disease in which fluid leaks into the lungs making breathing difficult or impossible. "I was informed I needed immediate heart surgery to replace my mitral valve," she said.

Nearly 10 years later, Angelina was ready to have a baby, but she was concerned that she needed another valve replacement. Michael Gorton, M.D., of Liberty Cardiothoracic Surgeons confirmed that she should have a second valve replacement done in order to survive childbirth. Not only did her original valve need to be replaced, but during surgery, Dr. Gorton discovered that the valve was leaking.

"It is by God's greater plan that I am here," she said. "The valve was in danger of rupturing, which would have been a very near-impossible obstacle to remedy."

She said Dr. Gorton and his assistant, Leigh, were always there to listen to her concerns. "I wanted to have children; I didn't want another scar; I wanted someone to hold my hand. They did that. I am thankful for the wonderful care I had at Liberty Hospital."

Life-saving surgery successful after timely diagnosis

Charlie BurnettCharlie Burnett, 80, had been experiencing some shortness of breath when he made an appointment to visit Liberty Cardiovascular Specialists. But he was surprised to find out he had one completely blocked and two partially blocked arteries and was going to need triple-bypass surgery.

"If I had not come in and gotten tested and taken care of, I probably would have had a heart attack or stroke," he said. "Dr. Michael Gibson did my surgery, and all of the doctors and nurses did an excellent job. I have never had such good care as I did while I was at Liberty Hospital."

Cardiologists Daniel Dunker, M.D., and Demetrios Maragos, M.D., determined through testing that Burnett had a previously undiagnosed condition called Atrial Fibrillation (AFib)—an irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke or heart failure. Several weeks after the open heart surgery, Burnett returned for a pacemaker and defibrillator.

"I feel like I have a different life after bypass surgery," Burnett said. "I sleep good. I eat good. I feel good."