"I had little to no pain ... I feel like a kid"
If 57-year-old Jon Dembo were a songwriter, he could put a new twist on the Tony Bennett classic, I Left My Heart in San Francisco. After consults with three different physicians in his Las Vegas hometown – following lab and diagnostic tests that confirmed significant blockage in his coronary arteries – Jon hopped a plane and brought his heart to Fresno.
"I just didn't feel comfortable with what the doctors in Vegas wanted to do," Jon said. Perhaps that's because they recommended such varied courses of treatment – from a relatively simple procedure using stents to open his blocked arteries to open-heart quadruple bypass surgery.
Having a history of high cholesterol and coming from what he describes as a family of "horrible hearts," Jon knew he needed to do something. The question was, "what?"
Within just 15 minutes of researching his options online, he discovered a new minimally invasive surgical technique being used at Saint Agnes Medical Center to treat cardiovascular disease – da Vinci robotic-assisted coronary bypass surgery. Jon had an immediate sense that this was the answer he had been looking for. And after talking to cardiothoracic surgeon Randolph Bolton, MD, Medical Director of the Stanford Cardiothoracic Surgery Program at Saint Agnes, Jon was certain this was the path he was destined to take.
"I knew from the minute I met Dr. Bolton that it was right. Everything started to fall into place ... I felt peaceful," Jon said.
Less three weeks after his first phone conversation with Dr. Bolton, Jon put his trust and heart into the skilled surgeon's hands to become one of a growing number of patients to undergo double bypass surgery without the physical trauma of having the breastbone split open.
The robotic procedure is performed without the need for a heart-lung machine and is done minimally invasively through small 2- to 4-inch incisions made between the ribs. Patients like Jon enjoy all the benefits of conventional open-heart surgery with the recovery advantages of a minimally invasive technique, including less pain, a shorter hospital stay, and quicker recovery time.
"I had little to no pain," Jon said. "Deep inside, I feel like a kid."
Due to the nature and extent of his disease, Jon was an excellent candidate for the robotic-assisted approach. The technology, however, does have its limitations and is not often appropriate for more complex cardiac procedures.
Though he was anxious to return to his home in Las Vegas, Jon will always have fond memories of Fresno and of Saint Agnes – especially the amazing surgeon, surgical nurses and intensive care nurses – who so deeply touched his heart.
More patient stories >>