Right place, right time – and a guardian angel
Bill Knowles’ chance of survival when blockage closed off his left main coronary artery 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.
“It’s like nothing ever happened,” the Aurora, Ohio, real estate investor says. “Physically, I feel wonderful. And I truly owe it to the professionalism of each and every person who came into the picture along the way.”
Those in the medical field call a 100 percent blockage of the left main coronary artery the “widow-maker.” But prior to Knowles’ collapse Sept. 20, 2009, the grandfather of seven was living a healthy, happy life.
“I didn’t have a lot of the symptoms you hear: getting out of breath going up the stairs, nothing like that,” he recalls. “I did pretty much what I wanted to do. It was a surprise to me – not a good one.”
Assembling a miniature overstuffed, chair monogrammed with the name of his granddaughter for her birthday at 10:30 that Saturday night, he realized something was wrong. His wife, Jan, 61, helping in the basement, immediately called 9-1-1 and gave Bill aspirin to thin his blood.
Paramedics called a medical helicopter to take him to Cleveland Clinic, where interventional cardiologist Ravi Nair, MD, and his team waited. After Bill went into cardiac arrest a total of nine times, they knew they had to do something beyond the typical bypass. Quickly inserting a stent to open the closed-off passageway was his only hope.
It worked beautifully, Dr. Nair says. “Right place, right time – and a guardian angel.”
Bill’s worst pain: a few broken ribs from endless rounds of CPR. And Bill and his wife, Jan, who calls her life with him an “endless summer,” were off to Florida for a pre-paid vacation a week later.
“I was nervous to go to Florida with him,” Jan admits. “In fact, it was even better because he joined me in the mornings for aerobics at the pool.”
After finishing cardiac rehab at Hillcrest Hospital in February, Bill is now working out at a local gym three to five days a week. And Jan still can’t believe what her husband survived.
“I just didn’t want my summer to end yet,” she said. “It’s just like a dream. To have such a happy ending, who gets that? I feel like every day is a gift, and we’re truly blessed.”