“Forever grateful:” Heart surgeon treats man and woman

Aleida and Jeff Vekony are always at each other’s side – even during cardiac rehab.

Aleida Vekony does not remember the near-fatal heart attack she had in December 2021, but her husband does.

“I found her completely lifeless on our kitchen floor,” he said.

He immediately began CPR.

“It just kicked in. I literally didn’t even think about it,” said Jeff Vekony. “Within a few minutes, our kitchen was full of police, fire brigade and rescue workers. And they took over and had to electroshock her twice in our kitchen.”

Aleida Vekony was eventually transferred to Central DuPage Hospital for heart failure. Her angiogram showed the extent of the damage.

The 59-year-old required surgery – five bypass grafts – to restore blood flow and pump function. But the condition of Aleida Vekony’s heart was a big challenge.

dr Gyu Gang is a cardiac surgeon at Northwestern Medicine.

“Any operation where you need anatomical aptitude, you have to be able to sew and do bypasses. But her arteries were so hardened,” he said.

“You read my results and Dr. Gang was the only doctor who was able to get a little emotional to fix me,” said Aleida Vekony. “He said, ‘I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve.’ And I’m like, ‘Ok, let’s do it.’”

Before he could sew up the grafts, cardiac surgeon Gang had to clean Aleida Vekony’s arteries.

“Your artery should be like a bucatini, a pasta that has a hole in it,” Gang said. “But in her case, she was a spaghetti. There wasn’t a hole. The solution was to perform what’s called a coronary endarterectomy, which is rarely done in America, where you actually hollow out the artery. That was the only option for her.”

“And he saved her life,” Jeff Vekony said.

The emotional experience inspired Jeff Vekony to have his heart checked. They found that 80% of his left aorta was blocked. Like his wife, Jeff Vekony required open-heart surgery – a quadruple bypass.

“We now have matching signatures from Dr. gang,” he said.

“By the grace of God I am here and forever grateful that He was able to save my life,” said Aleida Vekony. “He took over from me and I will always remember him. I had one more year with my family and more years to come.”

“It’s shocking to go through this, but now that we look back, we appreciate life more than we did in the past,” Vekony said.

The Vekonys completed their cardiac rehabilitation last week and are both doing well. Since performing open-heart surgery on the husband and wife, Gang has done the same for a mother and daughter — a first in his career.

https://wgntv.com/news/medical-watch/forever-grateful-heart-surgeon-treats-husband-and-wife/ “Forever grateful:” Heart surgeon treats man and woman

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