Darryl’s Story: An Unexpected Open-Heart Surgery Gets Marquette Business Owner Back to Work

Darryl has been working at Marquette Wallpaper & Paint on South Third Street for 42 years, and has owned the store with his brother since 2002.

In August 2017, he went downstate for a baseball tournament.

A few days later, when he came back to Marquette, he started having severe heartburn. It wouldn’t go away.

“I didn’t think it was anything out of the ordinary,” he said. But the next day, encouraged by his wife and family, he went to the UPHS – Marquette Emergency Room.

While the EKG came back without any concerning signs, a blood test revealed a serious issue.

“I found out I had a couple of heart attacks,” he said.

Interventional cardiologists with the UPHS – Marquette Heart & Vascular team took Darryl to the cardiac catheterization laboratory at the hospital to place a stent to open up a main artery to restore blood flow.

But after examining his heart more closely, doctors had to deliver some unexpected news to Darryl.

“It was nearly 100% blocked. I found out I was actually very sick, and that I would need to have open-heart surgery, and fast.”

World-renowned cardiovascular surgeon Dr. Bradford Blakeman and his team joined UP Health System – Marquette earlier this year, coming from Chicago to provide comprehensive, advanced, life-saving heart surgery and major vascular surgery to patients in the Upper Peninsula.

Dr. Bradford Blakeman, Cardiovascular Surgeon 

“He put me right at ease. He got me and my whole family to relax,” Darryl said. “He told me what to expect, what he would be doing. He’s one of the best.”

A quadruple bypass open-heart surgery was needed to save Darryl’s life. Coronary arteries supply blood to the heart itself. The heart, like other organs, needs oxygen-rich blood to continue to function properly and provide blood to the rest of the body.

When the coronary arteries become blocked, a heart attack can occur, damaging the heart by depriving it of blood, and sometimes leading to a fatal condition.

During most quadruple bypass surgeries, the heart is stopped so that the surgeon is not working on a moving muscle. This is done by using a heart-lung bypass machine, a medical device that supplies oxygen to the blood instead of the lungs and pumps it through the body as the heart would normally do.

“I think my family was more nervous than I was!” Darryl joked. “I was asleep for the procedure, after all. I was up and walking the next day. That’s how the recovery goes.”

Just three months later, Darryl is back to work, enjoying time with his family, and following up from his procedure with cardiac rehabilitation, a medically-supervised physical therapy program designed to encourage heart-healthy nutrition and education, and exercise to promote cardiovascular health.

“He’s a great doctor. I had a great recovery, everything went perfectly. I met with Dr. Blakeman two weeks after the surgery and he said, ‘Geeze, you look good! I’m not worried about you!’ He gave me a lot of confidence,” Darryl said.

“Everyone there treated me so well, the whole Heart & Vascular department, the nurses, the step-down unit. I really want to thank them for that.”

Learn more about our cutting-edge Heart & Vascular team and the advanced heart care available to Upper Peninsula patients at www.mgh.org/heart

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