Barbara's Story

It was two years ago when I was introduced to Dr. Vafai by my friend John. He provided John with cardiology care. He said if anything ever happened to me, I should see Dr. Vafai. Since then I visited Dr. Vafai a couple of times for routine checkups. All that would change after being made aware of my heart condition.

In the early morning of November 1st, I watched an infomercial on TV from Life Imaging offering a free heart scan. I said to my husband Ray, let’s go and get scanned since you are a diabetic. We made the appointment and had a low dose CT body scan. As it turned out, I was the one with the dire medical condition. Usually coronary heart disease scores range between 0 and 400, mine was 750. The Life Imaging personnel said I should contact my cardiologist.

I made a copy of my scan report and along with the DVD; I drove to drop them off at Dr. Vafai’s office. Within 30-minutes, Dr. Vafai called me and said to meet him the next morning at Delray Medical Center for a stress test, during which he never left the room. He honed in on something he had seen. Dr. Vafai scheduled a CT scan with iodine flowing through my blood vessels for the next day. Those results showed a possible blockage and a heart catheterization procedure was scheduled for the following day.

My heart catheterization was performed with the intention of inserting stents to open up the arteries. Unfortunately when they accessed my heart it was determined that the stents would not work and that I needed open heart surgery to clear several blockages in the arteries. I was told that one heart blood vessel was 90 percent blocked, another was 85 percent blocked and a third was 50 percent blocked. The left anterior artery that supplies the main chamber of the heart was almost entirely blocked. This is the artery, when blocked leads to a massive heart attack, which is difficult to survive.

The only option I had was to have triple heart bypass surgery known as coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG). Dr. Kushagra Katariya, a cardiothoracic surgeon at Delray Medical Center, met with me and said he can do open heart surgery and try to save my life. I said great, I want to live. I informed my husband Ray and my daughter Toni. Dr. Katariya and Delray Medical Center made me feel comfortable and at ease. I had the triple bypass surgery the next morning. My daughter Toni was there during the operation, the nurses kept her informed on everything that was going on about the procedure. When I came out of the operation and in recovery in the ICU, I had my doctor, nurses and medical staff coming by my bed to check on me. Delray Medical Center and their Cardiovascular ICU cared. It was amazing, I cannot say enough great things about the care I received from Dr. Katariya, Dr. Vafai and the cardiovascular medical staff at Delray Medical Center.

The three heart artery blockages I had, including one known, as the “widow maker” would have ended my life had it not been detected and treated. My dad died at the age of 54 of a massive heart attack. He did not have a chance to have surgery to save him. My heart doctors said it is not only what I eat, it is that I have a history of heart disease in my family. If I did not follow-up with my heart condition, I would have had a heart attack and most likely not survived. My Christmas present was the gift of life. God has more plans for me.

When Dr. Katariya came to see me during my recovery, I said to him “you are the best”. He has a calming presence about him. After I was released, I went to see Dr. Katariya for my checkup at his office in Delray Medical Center. I told him thank you for saving my life. You do not understand how appreciative I am to be alive. What a feeling! I know I had the best doctor.

Thinking back now, I had so many little warnings. I would work hard cleaning my house, taking care of my dog Luigi and giving him baths. I would get tired and out of breath easily. During the last couple of months, I started to take afternoon naps. Taking naps is not like me, I am a roadrunner! Charge my battery and I am gone.

Dr. Katariya said by being proactive and following up with Dr. Vafai when I noticed these symptoms and not waiting until I had a heart attack saved my heart from being damaged. Dr. Katariya said my heart is strong and I have good all-around blood flow to it. When I was at the hospital, I can remember feeling like the end was near. Nevertheless, Dr. Vafai was by my side throughout all the testing that helped diagnose my condition. Delray Medical Center was top notch! At Dr. Katariya’s Delray Medical Center office and Dr. Vafai’s South Florida Heart Institute office and their staff were always pleasant. Just two weeks after surgery I am feeling much better than I was before even with the slight pain I am experiencing. What I want to do now that I have more time to live is travel, visit new places and enjoy the finest restaurants. I am looking forward to enjoying my husband, daughter and grandchildren. I am so glad to be alive! I am very thankful to Dr. Vafai, Dr. Katariya and Delray Medical Center.