Sandra Dempsey-70

Name: Sandra Dempsey
Age at time of Dissection: 70
Type of Dissection: Ascending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 6 July 2011
Tell Us Your Story:

My Name is Mike Dempsey. I am a firefighter/EMT with Gilmer Co. Fire Rescue in Gilmer Co. Georgia. This is the story of my mother Sandra. My mother is a beautiful 70 y/o woman. With what we all thought was a lot of life left in her. At 6 A.M. on Wednesday July 6th I got the call that everyone in public safety never expects or wants to get. It was Captain Adam James of the GCFD telling me that a medic unit was being dispatched to my mothers house for difficulty breathing. I told him I was on my way, But in no way was I prepared for what was about to happen.

I knew my mother has had some minor breathing problems before, but nothing major. The Medic unit arrived and paramedic Jason Anderson phoned me and told me mother was to weak to come to the door. I arrived shortly after with a key. We made our way to mothers bed to find her in a state I’ve never seen her in, She looked as though she could pass at anytime. All of her vital signs looked good except her blood pressure 90/60.

Mother has high blood pressure so we knew something wrong. With fluids going we head to the local ER. Where more fluid were given but, B/P continued to drop 70/30. A helicopter was dispatched to fly mother to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga about a 20 min. flight. Once at Erlanger mother was rushed into surgery. 30 mins. into a 10 hr. surgery mother ruptured Doctors were able to fix the rupture and continue with the surgery.

Doctors replaced 33 mm of mothers ascending aorta and performed a bypass of her rt. coronary artery. It’s Sunday July 10th and mother is sitting up and leaving the ICU today. This story of Sandra Dempsey is Dedicated to the Doctors, Nurses, Flight Crew, and my brothers from the Gilmer Co. Fire Dept. Who through their hard work and prayers has given mother her life back. This web site has already helped. I would like to find some info. on what we can expect after she gets home. As well as some diet and fitness programs that will keep her around for a long
time to come.

Thank you The Family of Sandra Dempsey.

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!)


Complicated Type A Aortic Dissection Surgery Has New Standard


Gisela Hsiao-43


  1. Dan Vickers, DMD

    Small world for a rare disorder. Best wishes for your mom, Mike. I had an ascending dissection too in Oct ’08 in Union County, GA. I was flown to Ronnie Green Heart Center in Gainesville, where I was deemed too sick to operate with too poor of a post op quality of life prognosis. My kids talked the surgeon into trying, and I received a 3-inch dacron arch graft and a LMCA bypass graft. I was expected to lose my feet, but all has recovered.
    Ironically, the heart center was built with a donation from my cousin, Ronnie Green, who died at the same age of 53 from the same thing. Aortic dissections have a strong genetic inheritance component to it, it seems to strongly run in families. Be sure you and your physician are aware of your mom’s incidence of AD.

  2. Amber B

    First off I am glad that your mother is doing better and it sounds like she is in great hands. I have Marfan’s Syndrome and had my descending aorta dissect almost 11 months ago. The mental frustrations are by far the hardest to deal with. You walk around feeling like you are a ticking time bomb wondering when something is going to happen. Get her questions answered as soon as you can for her. Watch for signs of depression, this is actually more common than I thought. Also encourage her to walk. Talk a walk down the driveway and then a little bit further each day. Walking was the best thing for me but it was frustrating at first it was absolutely crucial and never let her walk alone until you are absolutely sure that she is ready. I would push a stroller our use a walker and my husband, dad our even our 4 year old would go with me. Eventually we purchased an elliptical and a treadmill for every day usage. She will be fine with your great support! Just pay attention to the mental aspects and watch closely for depression. Talk to her doctor if you notice any changes

  3. Jeff Guenther

    Hi Mike:

    First make sure your mom is eating. I had a really tough time for the first few months. Food tasted bad and I did not salivate causing food to seem like dry cardboard.

    If this happens a mild anti depressent medication works wonders. I think mine was called Celexa. Recovery can be long if she is not getting the necessary calories. Once she is eating well then heart freindly stuff is the best.

    Food was Ok for me but I did and do crave fruits they just seemed better.
    Best thing is activety and getting back to a normal life.

    Good luck and God Bless!


  4. sandra dempsey

    Hi Mike, I am so glad your Mom is doing so much better, I came upon this article by mistake, I was checking out my own name on Google, and lo and behold your article popped up. I can relate to your Mom’s medical problems, as I have COPD. Of course not nearly as bad as your Moms problems, but bad enough. I hope and pray that she will live an long and happy life and ya’ll will have many happy memories to share for a long time.


    My question is after arota dissection how long did it take after surgery to get strong again It has been 9 months since my husband had surgery and he is still so weak it is hard to get up off of a chair to sit up in bed ..All he can really do is sleep shower dress himself nothing more..I am wondering how many patients were weak like this and did your strength ever come back? All drs in Pa. are telling me he will recover in about a year.. would someone email me that has been through this and explain how it went after surgery and how long to get strong again

  6. Guerdon Smith

    Brian, I am still amazed I made it. Please forward this to Joann Saghy. My body awareness has always been weak which is why I love God so much. I was in ICU for a month. In there you lose ownership of your being. Your husband has fought a major war and is catching up with you and his home life. He just gets tired, bone weary. Every day have a small victory. Soon he will bloom. My wonderful wife has never lost faith. Today I went surfing. It has been three months since I got out. I found Cardiac rehab saved me from going to fast to soon. It is a miracle for us to be here, and you can’t compare one life with another as far as getting better. God bless you. Guerdon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén