As an electronic engineer by profession, Roger spent decades of his life designing circuits and fixing systems. But he needed help when it came to repairing his own heart. At age 46, he suffered his first massive heart attack and had his first bypass surgery. A second heart attack came four years later, and Roger almost didn't make it. But another bypass surgery was successful in reactivating the flow to his heart.
For the last few years Roger, 70 and now retired, has lived an active life in Placerville with his wife Florene where he dabbles in ham radio, loves to fly his airplane and has his own production company where he creates flight instruction videos. But little by little Roger started slowing down. He would get tired easily and he started losing interest in his hobbies.
After visiting with his local cardiologist, Roger was referred to John Chin, M.D., cardiologist, and Robert Kincade, M.D., cardiovascular surgeon, at Sutter Heart & Vascular Institute. Roger's ischemic cardio-myopathy was worsening and because he had prostate cancer with radiation a few years prior he wouldn't be a candidate for heart replacement surgery for a few more years. After a visit to the Emergency Department at Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento, his doctors suggested Roger needed intervention and that he would be an ideal candidate for a ventricular assist device (VAD) to help his failing heart continue to beat.
Dr. Kincade performed Roger's open heart surgery to implant the VAD. Roger spent five days in the ICU and a few weeks in recovery.
"Dr. Kincade and Dr. Chin visited me day and night throughout my hospital stay to make sure I was recovering well and to answer my questions," Roger says. "And the nurses were great taking care of all my needs and never making me feel like I was imposing on them."
Roger had to learn how to live with the VAD, and Florene had to learn how to take care of Roger, from changing his dressings to learning about his medication schedule. "It was a little overwhelming the first time I heard about how much I would be responsible for in Roger's recovery," Florene says. "But the nurses in the VAD Clinic were very supportive and did all they could to make sure I was comfortable taking care of him."
Weeks after his surgery, Roger started regaining his strength, "I could tell I was feeling better because I was getting interested in my normal hobbies," he says. "This surgery and living with a VAD is a big deal. You have to be committed and have a strong support system. But you can live a normal life afterwards."
"And I do have the old Roger back," Florene says.