Keith Hallbourg-25

Personal Stories: Keith Hallbourg


Hello. I just happened upon your website via a “Google” search. I too survived an acute dissection in 1994 when I was 25 years old.

Long story short, I am still here with a St. Jude valve and a dacron ascending aorta. In addition to some physical limitations and chronic concerns I am fairing well enough not to complain much.

All things considered I could be dead for 10 years plus at this point.

That said, I continue to suffer mentally from the psychological trauma of the entire life changing event.

This mindset has been exacerbated greatly with my brother’s recent sudden death (April 16th, 2004) of an acute aortic dissection, at age 37.

I would likely enjoy, or at least find cathartic, corresponding with you regarding our similar experiences.

If this is of any interest to you please email me at your convenience. Otherwise, best of luck to you.

Cordially, Keith W. Hallbourg

Thanks for stopping by to view our stories. Please help me keep the site going by shopping at’s very much appreciated. Brian Tinsley founder of (please book mark the link once you get to for future purchases!)




John Goldsmith


  1. Ann

    I had my dissection at 29, I’ve also had a lot of emotional issues dealing with it, I know I should just be happy to be alive, but there’s part of me that just doesn’t feel safe in my own skin. Hope you’re doing well these days.

  2. facebook-profile-picture

    Brian Tinsley

    Hi Keith,

    I apprecite you stopping by. I guess we all have something to be thankful for these days! I know this is a tramatic event and if we remain positive and faithful, each day becomes a precious gift for us to enjoy with our loved ones.

  3. Tony Penland

    Hey Keith,

    I am also a survivor of an aortic dissection, and i also have the St. Judes valve, and the dacron graph. My surgery took place in August of 2008, so I am coming up on my 2 year aniversery. I also have some really hard days with bouts of depression and severe anxiety. Somedays I have little twinges or some unusual pains, and they scare me absolutly to death, but I tend to just talk myself through these, or I call my wife and just get her to talk to me for a few minutes and eventually I calm down. Know I know in my heart that these feelings will never ever go away no mater how hard I try, but I pray everyday and know how thankfull I am to still be alive and it helps out some. The hard part is trying to get family members to understand just how traumatic this is to you, even though they went through it with you, they were not the one on the operating room table with all the tubes and bells and whisltes going off around you. My wife has been an angel through this whole thing but she listens to the doctors too much when they tell me “Oh your doing great Tony, everything looks fine, the valve is great the graph has healed wonderfully…..well thats great to hear, but when do the the thoughts in my head go away…everyday as I said I am thankfull to be alive, but I also wonder everyday is today the day something goes wrong in there and I am no longer around. It’s very hard and I am glad there are people on this site that we can talk to to help us get through this ordeal. Anytime you need someone to talk to just shoot me and e-mail and I will gladly give you a call or you can call me anytime you like, just let me know in and e-mail and I will give you my number. Best of luck to you and I hope you feel better everyday. God bless you.

    Tony Penland

  4. Keith

    Good Evening – I just returned to this site after many years. I am pleased to see a few responses. It is very comforting to hear read) each of you struggling with similar issues. I am at the point in my life 17+ years post acute dissection, where I hardly speak of my demons to anyone. That is not to say they have one away. They are almost always my last thoughts at night and my first thoughts in the morning. But, it is nice to know I am not alone. Tony, reading your thoughts I felt as though I was reading something I had wrote.

    Stay strong Brother. Take some solace in the fact we have the same hardware and mine has been working well for many years now.

    Kind Regards, Keith

  5. Keith

    Update – here we go again.

    I wanted to let you know I have officially scheduled my Sx with MGH for early, February 2013. Of course, I am notably anxious about the procedure fearing the worst may occur, despite the relatively low risk, particularly when compared to my emergency procedure following my original acute dissection in 1994. I did some exhaustive research to confirm what I ahve been told and I can confirm from various peer reviewed journals, the risk of death as well as the risk of stroke is around 5% each for 2nd (elective) AVR. However, these data did not include or reflect concomitant procedures, which will be my case, i.e replace the aortic valve and replace and extend the aortic graft now beyond the arch. This leaves me wondering how much the statistics change? One study did denote AVR combined with CABG as increasing the risks significantly, but fortunately this does not apply to me. That same study as well as others often denoted in the discussion/conclusion the feeling that mortality and/or serious complication rises with increased time spent on cardiopulmonary bypass machine and “clamp time”. I also noticed most of the statistics with regard to mortality and morbidity seem to be from a demographic skewed older than I am, i.e. 50+. Additionally some of the mortality at 10 years was alarming, but perhaps I was misinterpreting the findings. One study denoted 60% mortality at 10 years. This makes little sense to me , since I have already had an AVR for 18+ years with minimal complications, save the size misfit. Perhaps it is due to other factors (co-morbidities)?

    I suppose I am merely looking for reassurance that I am making the right decision. I guess overall I feel pretty good and wonder why I would subject myself to any risk; surgery itself, complications, the hope that the new valve functions as well as my current valve, etc. I cannot get out of my head what a rough time I had last time. And, while I realize the circumstances are different this time, relatively elective and planned versus emergent, my harrowing experience 18 years ago is really my only point of reference.

    Has anyone reading this board undergone replacement of their original AVR with or without concomitant procedures, most notably re-grafting of aorta? If so, please feel free to email me:

    Thank you for listening. That is, if you are still reading at this point?


  6. Keith Hallbourg

    Hey Tony – I thought of reaching out to you via email as you suggested, but none was provided. Nevertheless, it is the thought which counts. I hope you are doing well.


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