Daryl and Kimberly Oswald with Drs. Bahadorani and AltshulerHis Heart Beats With Gratitude

Hiking trails wind through the hills above Laguna Beach, and local residents Daryl Oswald, 56, and his wife, Kimberly, often tackle the steep grades for the breathtaking ocean views and challenge. On the morning of Feb. 17, 2020, Daryl was feeling ill and thought he should see a doctor – an admission Kimberly found surprising. He walked to the bottom of their staircase and collapsed.

Kimberly called for neighbors, one of whom performed CPR until emergency services arrived. Paramedics continued CPR, eventually arousing an arrhythmic heartbeat. Daryl was taken to the nearest designated cardiac receiving center – Saddleback Medical Center. When he reached the emergency room, his pulse was steady, but an electrocardiogram revealed he was having a massive heart attack.

Advanced procedures

Daryl’s care team discovered that his left anterior descending artery was completely occluded. John Bahadorani, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.S.C.A.I., board-certified interventional cardiologist at Saddleback Medical Center, performed emergent angioplasty and implantation of a coronary stent to hold the artery open, but Daryl’s heart was severely weakened by the attack and he was in cardiogenic shock. To improve blood flow and allow the heart a chance to recover, he implanted a tiny, temporary pump called an Impella®. The Impella supports the heart’s pumping action by drawing blood from the left ventricle and expelling it into the aorta, thereby unloading the left ventricle. In the Intensive Care Unit, Daryl began exhibiting signs of right-sided heart failure as a result of his left-sided failure. In another critical maneuver, Dr. Bahadorani implanted a second Impella pump to support the right side.

“It is extremely rare to implant two simultaneous percutaneous ventricular assist devices. By doing so, we were able to provide complete hemodynamic support for Daryl,” says Dr. Bahadorani. “Essentially, we created a temporary artificial heart. After a few days, his heart began to recover and we were able to remove the pumps.” Daryl was discharged from the hospital to a skilled nursing and rehab facility and eventually returned home. In early May, he awoke with difficulty breathing and returned to Saddleback Medical Center. A transesophageal echocardiogram revealed that his symptoms were the result of a new issue – severe aortic insufficiency (leaking of the main heart valve).

Jeffrey Altshuler, M.D., board-certified cardiothoracic surgeon and medical director of cardiovascular surgery at MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute at Saddleback Medical Center, performed a minimally invasive surgical procedure to replace the faulty valve with an artificial one.

“We were able to work through a small, 2.5-inch incision in Daryl’s right chest rather than perform traditional open-heart surgery,” says Dr. Altshuler. “We removed and replaced the valve and after four or five days, he was sent home to recover.”

Heartfelt thanks

Today, Daryl is alive and hitting the trails – his heart healthy and full of gratitude.

My wife and I are so thankful for everyone’s support, The doctors went above and beyond. And the nurses and hospital staff, the neighbors and paramedics, all those people who assisted me and donated to make Saddleback Medical Center’s hybrid operating room a reality – they’re the reason I’m still alive.

Daryl Oswald