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Patient Doesn't Miss a Beat After Undergoing Heart Surgery

Published on Wednesday, March 08, 2017
Bill needed to find a cardiologist
Bill Kehoe needed to find a cardiologist

Even people who are doing all they can to live a healthy lifestyle can have heart disease. Just ask Bill Kehoe, age 73, of Grand Blanc. Bill loves to run. He is a 33-year participant in the Crim 10 mile. For the past 15 years he has also volunteered to be a Crim trainer and he usually runs in four marathons each year. What he loves about running (being outside, clearing his mind and pushing his body to its limits) started to subtly change in early 2016.

Bill started experiencing a bit of difficulty running up a hill he had gone up thousands of times before. As the months went by, eventually he would have to walk the hill, then go back to running once he reached the top. He knew something was not right.

“I would get a burning sensation in the center of my chest and some shortness of breath,” states Bill. “I thought it was my lungs.”

Finally, a member of his running group who happens to work in the medical field, had a conversation with him because he was concerned that something was wrong. He offered to help Bill find a cardiologist, and referred him to Wilfredo Rivera, MD, an interventional cardiologist at McLaren Flint. Dr. Rivera evaluated Bill and did some testing in his office that revealed a blockage. He was scheduled for a heart catheterization. This procedure revealed that the blockage was much worse than the initial tests indicated. Bill needed to be seen by a cardiothoracic surgeon, and an appointment was scheduled.

Bill started running again as soon as both Dr. Rivera and Dr. Habib said he could

Bill was evaluated by Omar Habib, MD, a cardiothoracic surgeon at Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery, Michigan Heart Valve Institute at McLaren Flint. Dr. Habib determined Bill was in need of bypass surgery. Coronary bypass surgery improves blood flow to the heart muscle by creating a new pathway to the heart. During coronary bypass surgery, a healthy blood vessel is taken from a patient’s leg, arm or chest and connected to the other arteries in the heart so that blood bypasses the diseased or blocked area. Bill’s surgery was scheduled for September 22, 2016, a month before the annual Crim Festival of Races. Bill participated in the event that means so much to him, however he did have to walk most of the way, and his surgery was still performed on schedule.

“The care and people at McLaren Flint were really good,” states Bill. “One of the nurses on the floor who was in my Crim training group in 2016 came and checked on me a couple of times even though I was not her patient.”

Not one to embrace a treadmill or sit still for long, Bill started running again as soon as both Dr. Rivera and Dr. Habib said he could. He settled for lots of walking before that. A year after his body started telling him something was wrong, the winter of 2017 had him back to early morning runs with his running group and looking forward to his next marathon and 34th year as a devoted Crim participant.