Open Accessibility Menu

Debbie Kandoll – Open Heart Surgery Patient Success Story

Living life to the fullest

Debbie Kandoll – Open Heart Surgery Patient Success Story
Debbie Kandoll looks for a blessing each day. After recovering from open heart surgery at Methodist Mansfield Medical Center, the active 59-year-old single mother knows not to take a moment for granted.

Debbie works out every day, eats healthy, and is constantly on the go as a flight attendant for American Airlines. She never imagined she would have serious heart problems.

Debbie was scheduled to fly to Cozumel for work, but because of hoarseness caused by a polyp on her vocal cords, her primary care provider recommended she cancel the trip and rest. And good thing she did.

“I woke up the next morning and went to stretch as I usually do and felt a pain across my chest, pinching and twisting,” Debbie says. “I knew something was wrong. The first thing that crossed my mind was my heart, but I didn’t have shortness of breath and wasn’t dizzy, I didn’t have tingling in my arms, and I wasn’t nauseated.” Just a few minutes later, those very symptoms hit. Debbie called 911 and took an aspirin.

Methodist Mansfield is accredited by The Joint Commission in chest pain. That means it is staffed around the clock and dedicated to fostering better treatment results in record times.

A heart rescued

At Methodist Mansfield’s emergency department (ED), Debbie was examined by Ketan Trivedi, MD, ED medical director, and then by Levi Rice, DO, interventional cardiologist, both on the hospital’s medical staff. The doctors agreed that she needed an immediate coronary angiograph, a test that creates X-ray images for examining the condition of the coronary arteries. The images are made possible by a contrast dye injected into the arteries via a thin, flexible tube called a catheter. Traditionally, the catheter is threaded through an artery in the groin, but Debbie’s doctor instead accessed an artery in her wrist. This approach was much more comfortable for Debbie, and the test revealed that she had two nearly full blockages.

Debbie’s condition was so serious that Dr. Rice recommended open heart surgery instead of a minimally invasive cardiac stenting procedure. While shocking, Dr. Rice’s words didn’t frighten Debbie, whose positive attitude and determination to live life to the fullest motivated her to say, “Let’s fix it.” Darien Bradford, MD, thoracic surgeon on the medical staff at Methodist Mansfield, did just that by performing a double coronary bypass surgery the next day.

“In Methodist Mansfield’s new Amon G. Carter Foundation Heart and Vascular Center, we have a full range of cardiac services in one place, so it was with ease and efficiency that we were able to identify the cause of Debbie’s heart issues and move forward with the right treatment,” Dr. Bradford says. “She had the support of our cardiac care team, and her recovery was made that much quicker by her already healthy lifestyle. We were all impressed that she was walking around just 24 hours after surgery.”

‘Gifted time’ meant for giving back

Just a week after open heart surgery, Debbie went home to continue her recovery, elated simply to be alive and reunited with her daughter, Tiffany Morris, and her service dog, Suzy. As she slowly settled back into her routine and normal activities, like grocery shopping and going walking, she reflected on her life and how to live it to the fullest. “I’ve always lived for God’s purpose and plan,” she says.

She now shares her experiences with others on a Facebook page for open heart surgery patients called the Zipper Club. Through this close-knit online community, she encourages others to never give up and offers advice on what to do when they feel discouraged.

Since completing her cardiac rehabilitation program, Debbie walks 5 to 8 miles a day and incorporates other cardiovascular activities into her daily routine. Her enthusiasm is second to none.

“I believe in a positive outlook on life, and I’m getting better and stronger every day,” she continues. “The time I have here on earth is gifted time, and I want to make sure that I am the best that I can be.”

“The time I have here on earth is gifted time, and I want to make sure that I am the best that I can be.”
— Debbie Kandoll, heart patient

From spring 2017 edition of Shine magazine