HR Yost-29

Name: HR Yost
Age at time of Dissection: 29
Type of Dissection: Both Ascending and Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 2 February 2007
Tell Us Your Story:

Less than twenty-four hours after delivering my first child, I became a medical miracle. So, here’s the short version!

I suffered a seizure, a couple strokes, and a couple heart attacks. Blood clots pierced through my kidneys, lower right lung, right leg and one ended at the carotid artery, plus I flat-lined (died) a couple times. These were symptoms of the bigger problem-an ascending aorta dissection. I was told that four doctors passed on operating; luckily my doctor left his daughter’s 10th birthday party to operate. He gave me a 1-2% chance of survival given the severity of the situation and all my complications—apparently a collapsed lung, a semi dead leg, and one destroyed kidney constitute complications.

I made it through the first marathon heart surgery even though I was put on bypass and went into cardiac arrest, twice. My family was told that the next twelve hours were critical. But, my heart was bleeding out and I was taken back into the operating room in only a third of the given time. The chance for survival dropped. What’s less than 1%?

Everyone worried that if I did survive, I may show signs of brain damage. Apparently, I had gone 18-22 minutes with little or no oxygen. Then, of course, I could lose my leg or its function. However, I survived the second surgery. The worst part for my family was being told that I was still unresponsive and should have revived hours ago. A coma almost seems prosaic at this time.

It took approximately five days, and another leg surgery, before I really woke up and was aware enough of my surroundings. I woke up with my hands tied to the bed, a swan in my neck, a ventilator down my throat, tubes in my chest, and at one point I was told I was hooked up to almost two dozen machines during my “time out”. Eventually, I lost the ventilator and chest tubes; I exchanged them for an oxygen mask and breast pump. I could barely move my arms and the nurses in the CVICU had a heck of a time helping me with the pump—especially trying not to displace the swan in my neck, oxygen mask and all the other tubes running in or out of my body. It took only one day before my doctor told me that I would never be able to breast feed. I would be on blood pressure medication for the rest of my life.

I left the CVICU in about two weeks and the hospital only days after for home care. I was wary of any more time in the hospital; I had a young son who needed to know his mommy. The doctor took pity on me and released me early. It was a tough time for me. I had two craters in my right leg from the fasciotomy, and a chest wound that needed dressing as well. I was home with a car I couldn’t drive, a son I couldn’t hold, and a rear end I couldn’t wipe.

My recuperation lasted almost six months and involved: due to infection, a third leg surgery attaching a WoundVac (a vacuum that sucks the wound closed; it’s as grisly as it sounds) another heart surgery to prevent congestive heart failure, and months of occupational and physical therapy.

Though partially paralyzed, I’m still kickin’. I never really went through any depression. I realized almost immediately that the Lord had a plan for me. In the CVICU, I could not remember the year and had trouble with my short term memory, but I could remember Joshua 1:9 “…Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” I did not have to be terrified; I had the Lord. I even remembered, “For I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not harm you…” I had hope.

To be honest, I didn’t ask the preverbal “why me” when I learned that I would never run again or that there would be no more children. I didn’t even ask it when the medical bills rolled in. Instead I asked, “Why not me”? I’d gladly choose to do it again if one person can come to the saving grace of God. If my story can inspire one person, then it has all been worth it.


  1. If you are interested in learning about risks and recommendations for family members or participating in research at the John Ritter Research Program, we would like to speak with you. Please contact me.

    Tracy Bensend, MS, CGC
    Genetic Counselor / Study Coordinator
    Office of Dr. Dianna Milewicz
    John Ritter Research Program in Aortic and Vascular Diseases

  2. I found your story amazing! I had a diasecting aortic aneurism surgurized in 2012, but your case was much more complicated. They also missed my diagnosis, I went home, and got worse daily for about 4 days, then went back to ER of a univ med center. I was in bad shape, with low chances for survival, but made it thuough. I came out afterany hours of surgury, and went back to surgury the next day to be closed up. Had ICU stay 1 week, then transferred to a rehab hospital for about 2 weeks. How did you manage with the baby? You were SO young, what was etiology? Take good care! Kay B

  3. thank you for your story, hope you are doing better. My surgeon calls me his miracle and i think most that survive dissections are being given a 2nd chance by God. May He continue to bless you.

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