There aren’t many people pursuing PhDs in their retirement years. So when you meet one, you can be sure that you’ve met a motivated individual who gets the job done. Well, meet Ruth.
One day while walking in 2006, Ruth became short of breath. After a series of tests and an angiogram, she learned that she had aortic stenosis.
Ruth’s condition is common in many Americans, especially those who are 65 and older. A type of heart disease, aortic stenosis is caused by the narrowing of the aortic valve, which subsequently impedes the blood flow within the heart. Left unchecked, aortic stenosis can lead to death.
“It was a real shock to me,” Ruth recalls. But because of several high-risk factors, it was decided that surgery to replace her valve would have to wait until there was no other option. When she suffered a heart attack in early 2010, she was admitted to Tucson Heart Hospital*. There was little doubt that it was time for surgery.
Ruth chuckles when she recalls discussing surgery with her heart surgeon, Dr. Thomas Lampros. “He just asked me a few questions, and then he said, ‘Well, do you want to do it tomorrow or the next day?’” For Ruth, the suddenness was a blessing, because it didn’t give her much time to think about it.
And that’s probably a good thing, because her minimally invasive cardiac surgery was over before she even realized it. “My husband says I asked him afterwards, ‘Have I had the operation yet?’” Only three weeks later, Ruth reflects on the experience. “It was unbelievable. I never thought I would live through it. But Dr. Lampros is a great surgeon, and I’m grateful to him and this hospital that I stand here today.”
“All of the technicians and nurses were really wonderful too,” Ruth adds.