Alfonso “Manny” Perez (center), smiling happily alongside his wife and son after his son’s football match.

Alfonso Perez had always been the embodiment of strength and resilience. For over 25 years, he had been the backbone of the water company for the city of Laguna Beach. He worked his way to the top from warehouse associate to meticulous work with fire hydrants and valves. His job is as demanding as it is fulfilling, requiring physical labor.

During a seemingly ordinary day, life took an unexpected turn for Alfonso. He was helping out at his son’s football practice when suddenly he began to feel unpleasant symptoms. Attempting to shrug off his discomfort, he tried to walk it off, but the severity of his condition soon became apparent. Unknown to Alfonso, he was having a myocardial infraction, more commonly known as a heart attack. Alfonso acted quickly and called for an ambulance where he was rushed to the nearest hospital for immediate care.

Upon arrival, Alfonso was swiftly assessed by Sevak Darbinian, M.D., cardiologist, MemorialCare Medical Group who quickly discovered that Alfonso’s arteries were significantly blocked due to his underlying risk factors of high blood pressure and high cholesterol. A coronary artery bypass surgery – a procedure that reroutes blood around the blocked arteries to improve blood flow and oxygen to the heart – was necessary to save Alfonso’s life.

“Alfonso’s situation was critical. The blockages in his arteries were extensive and immediate intervention was necessary to give him a second chance at life,” says Dr. Darbinian.

Alfonso was taken to the MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute at Saddleback Medical Center for surgery, which was a success. He was moved immediately after surgery to the ICU to continue post-operative care with around the clock support from the care team that provided him comfort and reassurance every step of the way. Alfonso recovered quickly from the surgery, continuing his follow-up care with Daniel Walters M.D., FACC, FSCAI, interventional cardiologist, at MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute at Saddleback Medical Center.

The MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute at Saddleback Medical Center is distinguished as one of the leading heart and vascular institutes in the country with physicians specializing in advanced, minimally invasive heart and vascular procedures. Its renowned cardiac specialists utilize innovative techniques that allow patients to benefit from fewer complications, less scarring, greater comfort, and faster recoveries.

“Alfonso’s recovery journey has been extraordinary. His dedication to following medical advice, attending follow-up appointments and making lifestyle changes has been remarkable,” says Dr. Walters. “It’s patients like Alfonso that remind us of the incredible capacity for healing within the human body.”

The impact of Alfonso’s heart attack was profound, not only physically, but also psychologically and emotionally – it compelled him to reevaluate his life’s priorities and habits. With guidance from the healthcare team at Saddleback Medical Center, Alfonso embarked on a journey of transformation that involved rigorous exercise, dietary changes, and a newfound commitment to healthier living.

“Recovery wasn’t just about healing my heart; It was about strengthening my resolve to live better for me and my loved ones,” says Alfonso.

Alfonso encourages people to not ignore your body when something feels wrong, emphasizing how life can change in an instant.

“Facing a heart attack was the most daunting challenge of my life. You don’t realize how precious life is until you are faced with losing it. I thought I was invincible, but this experience opened my eyes,” says Alfonso. “I am thankful for the entire care team at Saddleback providing me with care and strength to continue on my road to recovery.”