A heart for the outdoors,
saved by emergency bypass surgery.
Ronda Michael had a cold and hadn’t been feeling her best all day. At home alone after work, she began to feel burning in her throat and her ears felt like they were going to explode. Ronda knew something was wrong, but she had no idea how serious it was.
At just 47 years old, Ronda was having a heart attack.
The symptoms Ronda experienced on the night of April 5 were not the classic signs most people associate with having a heart attack like chest pain or shortness of breath. Even with a strong family history of heart disease, Ronda didn’t immediately associate her symptoms with a heart attack.
After unsuccessfully trying to ignore her worsening symptoms, she finally made the call for help that would save her life. When Ronda arrived at The Good Samaritan Hospital emergency department she was quickly evaluated with an EKG and blood work which determined she had experienced a heart attack.
Good Samaritan is an Accredited Chest Pain Center by the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care. Hospitals with this accreditation have achieved a higher level of expertise in dealing with patients who arrive with symptoms of a heart attack allowing the Good Samaritan team to quickly recognize her uncommon symptoms and order the necessary tests to diagnose her condition.
Ronda was admitted to the hospital and taken for a cardiac catheterization to open her blocked arteries. During her catheterization, it was found that Ronda had significant blockages in multiple coronary arteries. Her right coronary artery was stented and an intra-aortic balloon pump was placed in order to support her heart because of the significant blockages in her other coronary arteries. These measures were just temporary fixes; Ronda would need open heart surgery.
“My father had a heart attack at 47 followed by triple bypass surgery,” said Ronda. Even with that intervention, heart disease had eventually taken her father’s life. Now she faced an even more serious surgery.
Ronda underwent quadruple coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery performed off-pump by cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Martin LeBoutillier of Good Samaritan Heart and Vascular Associates. Off-pump CABG surgery can be more technically challenging than using a heart/lung bypass machine, or pump, as the patient’s heart continues to beat during the grafting. However, off-pump CABG can help avoid some complications of cardiac surgery by reducing risk of stroke and memory problems. It also typically allows patients to have a faster recovery, shorter hospital stay, fewer blood transfusions and fewer inflammatory/immune response issues.
Ronda’s surgery went smoothly with Dr. LeBoutillier using arteries from her arm and chest for the bypasses. Just one week later, Ronda was headed home.
“I had the best care at Good Samaritan,” said Ronda. “Dr. LeBoutillier was spectacular – a great guy, down to earth and very kind. The nurses, doctors, the techs and even housekeeping staff were so extremely nice. All of the staff went above and beyond.”
After her return home, Ronda recuperated with the help of family and Good Samaritan Home Health before completing a cardiac rehabilitation program at the hospital. Now thanks to life-saving open heart surgery at Good Samaritan, Ronda is able to enjoy hunting, fishing, hiking and spending time with her two children, Josh and Sheena.
“I cannot thank everyone from The Good Samaritan Hospital enough for taking great care of me at a very scary time in my life,” said Ronda. “They saved my life and I am forever grateful.”