John’s Story

Remembering Back, I Believe It is a Miracle That I Am Here. I Will Be Forever Grateful for My Good Fortune of Meeting Dr. Patel When I Did.

On Super Bowl Sunday, I was at home with my wife looking forward to a great day with friends at a neighborhood party. A few hours before kickoff, I began to experience a severe burning sensation in my throat. I though it was heartburn and took five or six antacids in less than an hour. My wife suspected I was having a heart attack. I was adamant that it had nothing to with my heart since the sensation I was having did not seem like “chest pain,” which is what I associated with a heart attack. The burning became intolerable and my wife insisted that I immediately go to the emergency room. Instead of partying with our friends, I spent the afternoon and evening at St. Mary’s Medical Center with doubts about my future.

Fortunately, I received excellent care at St. Mary’s Medical Center. The medical staff immediately recognized I was having a life-threatening heart attack and stabilized me, which prevented irreparable damage to my heart. After I was stable, the attending physician had me transferred to Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center because of its status as a heart center known for its high performance in the treatment of heart failure.

After undergoing a catheterization at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center, I was told that I had almost 100 percent blockage in, what is known as, the widow-maker artery and 85 percent blockage in my other main artery. The cardiologists in the catheterization lab told me they were going to consult with Dr. Nishant Patel. He is a cardiothoracic surgeon who, they said, was their go-to specialist for this type of heart ailment. Then, before I knew it, Dr. Patel and his physician’s assistant Leslie came to visit me.

Dr. Patel told my wife and I that he consulted with the other cardiac doctors who had examined me. It was their unanimous opinion that I needed immediate open-heart bypass surgery. He took his time to explain every little detail about the procedure and answer every question my wife and I could think of asking him. With all the information we were given, along with the calm and compassionate way he spoke, I had no difficulty trusting Dr. Patel with my life. As extreme as the circumstances were, I did not feel any stress or anxiety. In fact, to this day I continue to feel grateful and blessed to be under Dr. Patel’s care.

On a side note, while I was awaiting surgery, my son-in-law, who is a medical research scientist based out of Santa Clara, CA, made some inquiries about Dr. Patel. Unbeknownst to me, he and my daughter were checking to be sure that the doctor I liked was also a highly qualified surgeon.

My daughter told me on the eve of my surgery that her husband had quietly discovered that Dr. Patel was as a recognized “super star” in his field and not just in South Florida.

She said that he not only had excellent academic credentials but was regarded by his peers as an outstanding surgeon. I did not need the boost of confidence that this information brought but I was pleased that my daughter was able to share my confidence.

On the morning of my surgery, Dr. Patel came to my bedside and calmly reviewed everything we previously discussed about my procedure. I was then taken to a pre-op room and given a general anesthetic. The next thing I remember was waking up to a smiling Dr. Patel who told me that everything had gone smoothly. At that instant, I realized I just had open-heart surgery. I felt wonderful and wanted to hug the doctor, which I was able to do a week later. I was also tremendously relieved for my family. Remembering back, I believe it is a miracle that I am here. I will be forever grateful for my good fortune of meeting Dr. Patel when I did.

During my recovery days at the hospital, Dr. Patel regularly came by to check on me. Since my discharge I have had a few follow-up questions and have been able to reach him immediately. Just like he was at the hospital, he has been generous with his time and has taken care to explain everything that I had questions about. He has been just plain wonderful.

One final point I would like to make is that Dr. Patel, like super stars in other fields, i.e. Tom Brady, Lebron James and others, require a great team to achieve greatness. Dr. Patel’s hand selected team of assistants along with the wonderful staff at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center was all instrumental in achieving my personal victory. I am indebted to them all.

In closing, I wish to draw attention to the fact that my favorite super star Dr. Patel reminds me of another champion NBA player, Steph Curry. Both men are tops in their professions, exhibit confidence in a humble fashion, and care more about team success than personal accolades. That is how I see it.