Meet Our Patients
The Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute's distinguished legacy of innovation and achievement has one objective only: The health and well-being of you, the individual patient.
We'd like to introduce you to some of our patients and share their success stories.
Restoring a normal heart rhythm brings peace of mind
A routine physical at Harry Mills’ hometown health clinic revealed a silent – but potentially serious – condition
Surgery for two
It is certainly not unusual for married couples to do all sorts of activities together. Typically, however, those activities don’t include surgical procedures – unless you’re Donald and Betty Flood. In a twist of fate, the couple, married for 52 years, each underwent procedures performed in February 2010 by Cleveland Clinic Heart & Vascular Institute surgeons.
Taking matters into his own hands
When Doug Sheils heard the news last August that his mitral valve prolapse (MVP) had progressed to regurgitation, he was ready to take action.
Life after heart attack
Bill Knowles’ chance of survival when blockage closed off his left main coronary artery 100 percent in September: 1 percent. So it’s not surprising that everyone from the paramedics who came to his door to the doctors and nurses treating his heart attack at Cleveland Clinic talk incredulously about the 73-year-old’s amazing health today.
Thoracic surgery helps one man triumph over esophageal cancer
When Bob Iliff learned that his newly diagnosed condition, Barrett's esophagus, might one day lead to esophageal cancer, the Louisville, Ky., resident decided he didn't want to chance the watchful waiting recommended by his local gastroenterologist. Instead, he sought a second opinion at Cleveland Clinic, where tests revealed he had Stage 1 esophageal cancer.
The fourth time is a charm for valve surgery patient
JoAnne Williams jokes about her fourth heart valve replacement operation. “I’ve had a pig valve and now I’ve got a cow valve,” she says with a gentle laugh. “I’ve got a whole farm inside me.” The spirited 74-year-old grandmother from Louisville, Ky., laughs about her heart procedure now. But in early 2009 when her third replacement valve began to fail, her outlook was anything but sunny.
Living life to the fullest, with heart disease
In 2000, Mark Siwik was the first runner to sign up for the first annual Cleveland Clinic Sports Health River Run 13-mile half marathon run/walk. Since then, he has competed in all 10 River Runs and in 2009 – four years after having open heart surgery (aortic valve surgery) at Cleveland Clinic – he notched his fastest time for this race: 1 hour and 49 minutes.
A life-saving love: severe mitral valve prolapse
Thank goodness George Eckart, 42, has a lot of love in his heart, because all that love – plus a Vietnamese orphan who needed to be loved – saved Mr. Eckart’s life. In 2007 – on Valentine’s Day, ironically enough – Mr. Eckart, of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, underwent a physical examination to see if he was healthy enough to be an adoptive parent. He and his wife, Kristin, were seeking to adopt a child, and during the exam, his doctor discovered a “significant heart murmur,” which surprised Mr. Eckart.
South African teen receives care for rare vascular disease
The headaches were excruciating. Her blood pressure skyrocketed dangerously high. There were days when she was confined to bed. At the time, Ashleigh Botha was just 11 years old. Doctors in her native South Africa diagnosed Ashleigh with fibromuscular dysplasia, or FMD. This under-diagnosed vascular disease causes arteries to have abnormal cell growth, leading to a narrowing of the blood vessels. Ashleigh was the first patient with FMD her South African physicians had treated.
Battling HCM: a second – and first – chance at life
By all outward appearances, Tonya Wesley was a healthy 26-year-old when she went to the late show at a local movie theater 11 years ago.But upon leaving the theater, she fainted and fell face forward, suffering a gash on her chin. At the hospital, the ER doctor noticed that she had a loud heart murmur. He referred her to a cardiologist, who diagnosed her with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM.
No longer breaking a sweat: hyperhidrosis
There was a time when Emily Reed was terrified to meet new people. She wasn't shy, but an unusual medical condition called hyperhidrosis made the 22-year-old Mansfield, Ohio, resident dread shaking hands with others.
Breaking free from DVT
Diana Patterson sometimes wishes she could turn back the clock to the beginning of 2007 and start over. That was when she first experienced deep vein thrombosis — a blood clot that develops in a vein deep in the body and has the potential to be deadly if the clot breaks free, travels through the bloodstream and becomes lodged in the lungs' blood vessels, known as a pulmonary embolism.
Going the distance: Aorta Surgery
With perhaps just two months to live, Emma Neubauer finds the courage to take a chance. Emma Neubauer nearly skipped having life-saving surgery. The 88-year-old New Britain, Conn., resident was discouraged by the advice she got last fall at a hospital near her home about repairing her thoracic aneurysm.
No ordinary stomachache: vascular surgery helps restore blood flow, provides relief
Six years of worsening upper-abdominal pain and an elusive diagnosis were destroying Kim Barley’s life. “It felt like a heart attack every morning when I woke up,” says Barley. Then one day, she asked the physician to check her stomach arteries.
Don't Get Discouraged: A-Fib Treatment Often Requires Perseverance
Fifty-eight-year-old Bill Braun, of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, says his heart zipped along at about 150 beats a minute, then returned to normal. He thought it was a fluke. He was never out of breath. But he wasn't out of the woods, either.
Mommy feels great! One woman’s triumph over mitral valve prolapse
Her sister died suddenly at age 42 (married with three children). Her brother died at 37 (married with three children). So Connie Karcher, “was a bundled mess of nerves” when she was expecting her first child. She went to her doctor for a complete cardiac workup, and found the family pattern was continuing: she had mitral valve prolapse.
Listening to your heart: Cleveland Clinic Women’s Cardiovascular Center helps Ohio woman get her life back
Even though her father had heart disease, Yvonne Osborn couldn’t imagine the same was happening to her at only 35 years old. When the chest pains began on a vacation in Las Vegas, Ms. Osborn didn’t tell anyone, thinking she was just too young. However, one day at work, the pain became unbearable.
A Sigh of Relief: When the Problem is Your Arteries, Not Your Feet: Geraldine Cohen: PAD Patient
It started slowly, as a pressure in her right leg when she was walking. But it grew into a debilitating pain that stumped Geraldine Cohen’s doctors in Vermont and hindered her ability to get around and take part in activities that she once enjoyed. Her plan of attack? She went online to find out who U.S.News & World Report recommended.....
Transcontinental Crisis: Charles Linderman, MD: Aorta Dissection Patient
“You’re too sick to fly.” That’s what they told Charles Linderman, MD, in Athens, Greece. Dr. Linderman is a missionary, and an American. He has devoted his life to helping the people of Albania. Now, he himself needed help. But help, in the form of Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute at Cleveland Clinic, was an ocean away. Dr. Linderman’s road to this seeming impasse was long and dramatic. It began more than ten years earlier.....
Former Patient Finds New Building, “Just Amazing”
When Kenneth Collier got an invitation to an Open House at Cleveland Clinic’s new Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Pavilion, he didn’t hesitate: “I was feeling well, so I put it on our calendar.” Only a month earlier, Mr. Collier had been at the Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute at Cleveland Clinicon far more serious business: heart surgery. On August 4, 2008, he’d had aortic valve replacement, mitral valve repair, and a single-vessel coronary artery bypass, performed by A. Marc Gillinov, MD.
Stephanie Zimmerman: Heart Transplant Patient
When Stephanie Zimmerman was 8-years-old, she battled Ewings Sarcoma, a rare form of childhood cancer. While doctors told her she may have some heart damage from the radiation and chemotherapy, Stephanie, now 38, continued to live a normal and productive life. But as the years went by, Stephanie began experiencing increasing fatigue and required valve repair surgery. “The repair unmasked the fact that the chemotherapy drug I had as a child did damage to the left ventricular muscle,” Stephanie recounts. “Once the valves were repaired, the left ventricle did not have a ‘pop off’ valve so to speak, and I spiraled into heart failure.”
Ken Dockery: Heart Surgery Patient
Ken Dockery stepped into the hospital unit where he’d spent six days recovering from open heart surgery two and a half years before. Nearby, a woman sat alone, head bowed. She moved to let Mr. Dockery sit beside her. “My husband is a heart patient here,” she explained. “He’s stopped taking phone calls from family and friends; he doesn’t want to live.”
Sandy Webb: Minimally Invasive Mitral Valve Surgery
When Hurricane Katrina slammed into Gulfport, Miss., Sandy Webb and her husband lost their house, cars and belongings. Mrs. Webb, a successful real estate agent and mother of two, was ordinarily bustling with energy. But after the hurricane, something seemed to be wrong. “I was not feeling well,” she recalls. “A lot of dizziness. I had three episodes of tunnel vision while I was driving. I just could not get a good, deep breath.”
Peter Harholdt: Valve Repair and Maze Procedure
Not so long ago, Peter Harholdt, 61, thought his amateur racing career was in its last laps, even though he had been racing since he built his first car as a graduate student at Virginia Commonwealth University. But a steadily worsening heart valve problem and a heart rhythm disorder threatened to end his racing career — until he turned to the Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute at Cleveland Clinic for help.
Joseph Sexton: Cox-Maze Patient
Joseph Sexton was mowing the lawn when it first kicked in. Lightheaded, the 6’3”, 275-lb. man reached for his wrist to feel his pulse. What he felt was not the normal, steady rhythm of the heart we’ve all become accustomed to. His heart was beating very fast – “like a drumbeat.”
Deborah Gill: Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
Running to avoid the raindrops or hurrying to catch a plane. These ordinary activities of a busy life caused Deborah Gill’s heart to race, throat to tighten and fingers to get numb. But it was easy for her to ignore the symptoms because they started only a few months after her kidney-pancreas transplant.
Mike Rupp: Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome (WPW)
NHL pro Mike Rupp says his favorite hockey memory is winning the Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils in 2003. “Guys were playing with broken bones and stitches everywhere, doing whatever they could to win,” says Mr. Rupp, 27. Broken bones and minor bruises weren’t all. Mr. Rupp, who scored the series-winning goal, was playing with two heart defects.
Christopher Milde: Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome (WPW) - Pediatric
When Christopher Milde was just 2 days old, he was diagnosed with Wolf- Parkinson-White syndrome (WPW), a rare type arrhythmia or heart rhythm disorder. Medication to control his symptoms only worked for so long. Eventually the episodes of arrhythmia increased wildly. His heart rate would skyrocket to 280 beats a minute, causing many trips to the emergency room.
Lorene Parker: Heart Transplant and Liver Transplant
When Lorene Parker stops to notice the long scar that runs the length of her chest and branches off sideways just below each breast, she feels blessed. I’m alive, she thinks. In 1998, flu-like symptoms prompted Ms. Parker, then 42, to pay a visit to the emergency room. Turned out that her heart was barely pumping.
Jennifer Shih, MD: VAD and Transplant
Wiped out. That's how Jennifer Shih, MD, felt. At age 29, Dr. Shih was in training to become a pediatric cardiologist and had been on call at her Cincinnati hospital for five of the previous six days. But this exhaustion was beyond anything that could be accounted for by hard work alone. Dr. Shih wondered if it could be her heart.