Tiny Pump Big Rewards

Gary Dials enjoys the simple things in life, like hugging his grandkids and basking in the sunshine from his front porch.

He treasures every moment because, as a four-time heart attack survivor, he knows how lucky he is to be alive.

His last heart attack would have ended his life had it not been for a small heart pump and the fast teamwork of doctors at Fairfield Medical Center.

“I had some wonderful doctors,” Gary, 62, of Lancaster, recalled. “They came close to losing me and they just jumped in there, heart and soul, and worked their hearts out.”

On May 23, Gary became the first patient at FMC to undergo surgery with the Abiomed Impella® heart pump, which is the smallest heart pump in the world and is narrower than a pencil. Interventional cardiologist Shantanu Sinha, M.D., placed the pump into Gary’s femoral artery, a large artery in the thigh. It was then threaded up into the left ventricle – the main pumping chamber – of Gary’s heart so he could undergo life-saving surgery.

Abiomed Impella heart pump“The Impella allowed me to perform a ‘beating heart’ coronary artery bypass grafting in a very weak heart,” said Gary’s surgeon, José Norberto, M.D., who also is the medical director of cardiac surgery at FMC.

Soon after Gary’s surgery, doctors discovered a blood clot in his femoral artery, at which time FMC vascular surgeon Krishna Mannava, M.D., was consulted. Dr. Mannava was able to remove the clot and successfully repair the artery.

Gary was later discharged to a local rehabilitation center and returned home just weeks later.

“Thank God for modern science,” he said. “I may not be the strongest right now; it will take a little time, but I’ll get there.”

Gary said his heart issues “just came out of nowhere” when he had his first heart attack at 39. Three more heart attacks followed – one in 2007, one in 2010 and the most recent in May. He said he has always tried to live a healthy lifestyle and will continue to do so for as long as he can. His children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are the driving force behind that decision, he said.

“Never give up on life; we only have one shot at this and I want to live as long as I can,” Gary said. “I tell people, as long as I can breathe, as long as I can see my family, I’m going to keep trying.”

To learn more about FMC’s cardiovascular services, go to fmchealth.org.

Tags: heart pump, monitor, cardio, Shantanu Sinha,