Personal Stories: Roger Taylor


Your website is great!  Your experience is much like mine, though I wasn’t doing anything physical, it was a Saturday Morning and I was at work.  I had been a radio announcer for 26 years at the same radio station. I was just sitting there, about to open the microphone for a live call-in show.  Suddenly I had this sharp burning pain through my chest, sweat began to roll down my face.

I got up and walked to my office. I’ve been in radio too long, because the first call I made was to a co-worker, I said “J.D. you’ve got to come in and take over right now, I think I’m having a heart attack”, I think he dropped the phone on the way to the door.

Then I called the Emergency Squad, I live in a small town in West Virginia and so they were there within minutes.  I walked out the door and climbed into the back of the ambulance when they opened the doors, our local hospital is just a few minutes away.  The last thing I remember was being rolled into the emergency room.  This was on Saturday, March 20, 2004; I woke up on Wednesday, March 24th. (I think)

I was unable to move and very confused, it took another day to comprehend what was happening.  I’m told I was given a CT Scan, and then the lifeflight helicopter took me to a Medical Center 90 miles away in Morgantown, WV.  The Surgeon who saved me was Dr. Ganga Probhakar.  (Every nurse and doctor I talked to at the hospital told me how lucky I was that he was my surgeon)  I have only spoken to this man once or twice, just days after I woke up, what sticks in my mind is him saying, “Your aorta shredded”.  I have an appointment with this doctor a week from now, when I will get the whole story.

The helicopter crew, who flew me there, stopped by one day to check on me.  One of them said: Man, you scared the hell out of us, we didnt think you were going to make it. I thanked them for the ride, even though I didnt remember it.

I have a long scar up the middle of my chest, I also have 8 or 9 inch incisions from my ankles up the inside of both legs.  From what I understand, they repaired my aorta with a Dacron graft, put in an artificial aortic valve and did a bypass on a damaged artery.  (By the way, I’m 44 years old)  Unfortunately my wife is unable to help with my recovery, as she is confined to a wheelchair with Multiple Sclerosis.  After 9 days I was transferred to a rehab hospital, where I stayed until a few days ago.

The Physical Therapists were great and they all say my recovery is outstanding.  I was slowed a little from coming home by problems with healing in the leg incisions.  The entire hospitalization was 53 days.  It will be a while before I can return to work; I am still a little weak and need to get my endurance back.  My family and friends have been great, my radio listeners sent me a ton of Get Well Cards and my co-workers did daily updates on the radio about my condition.  Thanks again for your website, I have just begun to explore it and have already learned a lot.  Good luck to you!

Life is a precious thing…


Update: 8/7/04

Brian, I am still learning from your website, thanks for the updates. I thought I would update you on my story. It’s nearly 5 months since my surgery. I’ve been back to work full time since the first of July. My doctor said to try half days for a couple of months, that lasted a couple of weeks. I had a CT scan on July 29th and my surgeon said everything looked good; I’ll do another in 6 months. My energy level is still a little low, but I played an 18 hole charity golf tournament today, (Par 3 course) I’m pretty tired tonight, but I’m glad I could do it. (And I didn’t come in last!)  Most days I feel pretty much the way I did before the surgery, I just get tired faster.

When I saw my surgeon on the 29th, I asked him, what my chances were going into surgery? He said, I would have given you a 10% chance of survival. But, he had a great team and they pulled me through. I got to meet and thank the doctor who assisted him too. I really beat the odds, now I feel like every day is an extra day and the 20th of March is my new birthday.

Keep up the good work!

Update: 3/21/05

Just a quick update… I just celebrated the one-year anniversary of my surgery. I got my second CT Scan March 1st and saw my surgeon on March 17th. The Doc says things look good, no sign of abdominal aneurysms and kidneys, liver, spleen, etc. look O.K. I’ll get another Scan in 6 months and then if everything still looks good, once a year after that. I’m putting in too many hours at work, but I am trying to remedy that. I need to get some exercise and lose some weight. Good luck to everyone who has posted their stories on the site, I would be happy to hear from any of you.


Update: 9/20/05

Just a quick update, it’s a year and a half now and my doctor says there is no change in my CT scan from 6 months ago.  We’ll probably wait a year till the next one.  Feeling good, just trying to keep my coumadin levels right.

As always… Best wishes to all the survivors,


Update: 9/08/06

It’s been a year since my last update, two and a half years since my surgery.  Just got a CT scan and saw my surgeon.  He says things look stable, unchanged from year ago.  Come back and see me in a year.  I feel fine, no real problems I can detect from the surgery.  I still hear that constant clicking of the heart valve in my chest, but I’ve gotten used to it.  My Coumadin levels have been good, I get my blood checked once a month.  I continue to read the new stories on the site; I try to a drop a note of encouragement to newcomers.  I’m always glad to hear from other survivors.


Update: 3/20/09

Time flies when youre having fun I know its been a long time since I sent an update of my story, but its been happily uneventful. I guess when things are going well (knock wood) you dont bother to write.  Its been five years since my surgery and I really cant complain.  I had an echocardiogram and a CT Scan at the first of the year and my cardiologist says everything looks good.  The heart valve is clicking away, I just try to remember to take my meds and keep pluggin along.  I still work six days a week; Ive been at the same radio station for 31 years now.  Check out our website at On my air-staff page I have a brief version of my story and a link to this website.  I still visit this site often and read the new stories.  Im always happy to lend moral support to AD survivors.  Ive had 1,825 extra days and counting.

Take care,

Roger Elkins, WV Taylor                                                                                                
Update 3/21/2012
Name: Roger Taylor
Age at time of Dissection: 44
Type of Dissection: Both Ascending and Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 20 March 2004
Tell Us Your Story: Update: 3/20/12

Another long hiatus from the site, 8 years now since the dissection. Wish I could say ditto on the post from 3 years ago, but I can’t. Recent CT Scans show I have an enlarged aortic arch and will have to have another surgery. Surgery to replace the aorta is recommended if an aneurysm measures 5 – 6 centimeters. (Mine is 6.7) This is an open chest procedure, like the one I had 8 years ago. The subclavian and carotid arteries have to be rerouted and the aorta is replaced with a fabric graft. This is major surgery that requires a heart-lung machine.

My descending thoracic aorta has also enlarged, but not to the extend of the arch. They want to do endovascular stenting on it, a less invasive option. Stents can be placed into the body without cutting the chest, it is done through an artery in the leg. The plan is to perform the open chest repair, then after a week or so of recovery time in the hospital, they would do the second procedure. I am planning to have this work done at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia.

The good news is the valve and repair from the 2004 operation are in good shape, they just need to extend the replacement through the arch and stent the abdominal. Simple right? No, but I’m trying to stay optimistic. If you’ve had these procedures done, I’d love to receive an email from you. I had a phone call out of the blue tonight from a fellow in California who recently went through a dissection and we chatted for 20 minutes. He had the same fears we all go through, I hope I made him feel a little better. Good luck to all the survivors out there and say a little prayer for me.                                                        

Phone (304) 636 – 7573

Contact Roger

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!)


Still here… A year since my last update, 9 years since my dissection. I had the total arch replacement surgery on July 20, 2013 and obviously I made it through. I have healed well and I’m happy to say, through diet and exercise I have lost 120 pounds in the past year. (Yes, it can be done) My incentive was to lose weight before the surgery, I started on March 15, 2012 and when I arrive in Philadelphia on July 15, I had lost 70 pounds, since then, I have lost another 50. First of the year I joined a gym and I workout 3 days a week. My surgeon decided to hold off on the abdominal stenting procedure, a CT scan after 6 months shows the repair looks great and the aorta is stable, so we will wait another 6 months and check it again. I really feel great and I’d tell you more, but I have to go to the gym.