Name: John Papez
Age at time of Dissection: 65
Type of Dissection: Ascending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 29 December 2014
Tell Us Your Story:

1130 AM sitting in my office on a phone call when I felt like an ice pick was beating on the inside of my upper sternum. Immediately called secretary and said ‘take me to the hospital’. She said that she would call an ambulance.

I said ‘no! I don’t have time’. Absolutely no prior cardiac history. Excellent health, work out in the gym 300 days a year, vegan diet for 3 years prior. Reaching the hospital in less than 10 minutes, left leg completely numb so we entered the ER in wheelchair.

ER nurse immediately took me to special area and interrogated me as she hooked up EKG and off to the CT scan we went. Pain was intense in left hip area. 25 minutes later, surgeon was looking down at me with my wife and best friend of 40 years, he asked what I wanted to know about the risks involved with the procedure that I needed. ‘Just do what you need to do, but am I going to need surgery?’. He said somewhat startled ‘Oh yes’. Fortunately, he was minutes away from starting a non-emergent valve replacement on another patient who was already in the surgical suite with his 10 person team.

They removed her from the suite, and began the 7 hour aortic root and aortic valve replacement surgery. I was very fortunate to immediately get to the right hospital and have a full team prepared to begin the surgery. One of my early goals was not to have this surgery define who I was any more than I would let a hip replacement define me. I have not let that happen. However, as I approach my anniversary in December, I find myself googling for information about AD and Survivors again like I did right after my surgery.

I am very grateful to have survived. Dr Robert Riley is a great surgeon and the ER nurse, Donna, was so alert to my condition. I can never thank them enough. Dr Riley told me at my 3 week visit ‘see you next December’. My new cardiologist told me at my 3 week visit ‘see you next December’. Life is good!