Heart

How Ed Became an Anomaly at his Cardiology Center

Driving Kentucky’s countryside to visit the family farm in Lexington is something Ed Clem always enjoys. Every month the Clem family spends time at the farm doing chores like cutting and splitting wood the old fashioned way. “It’s hard work, but great exercise,” Ed says.

But instead of riding a tractor around the farm, one weekend last October Ed rode an ambulance from his home in Henderson, Kentucky to Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati. A fitness fanatic, it was a ride that Ed never expected to take.

The previous Sunday Ed felt “a weird sensation of foreboding that I couldn’t shake.” When the feeling didn’t go away, Ed asked his wife to take him to the local hospital in Henderson. One little blip on his EKG prompted doctors to send Ed to a bigger hospital across the river in Evansville, Indiana for a heart catheterization. Once there, Ed needed only to look at the faces of the doctors and nurses to know he was headed for surgery – a triple bypass.

A family friend referred Ed to J. Michael Smith MD at Good Samaritan. “Dr. Smith told me I’d recover more quickly from robotic surgery than from conventional surgery,” says Ed. As an attorney accustomed to 16 hour workdays, Ed liked the idea of a quick recovery.

Ed arrived at Good Samaritan on Friday, and had robotic-assisted surgery early Monday. Four days later he headed back home, this time in the family car. “Dr. Smith’s guarantee of a fast recovery was evident even before I left the hospital,” Ed remembers. “I saw other patients who had had their chest cracked open with conventional heart surgery. They were really in pain. They struggled to get out of bed and take a few steps.” Ed, on the other hand, spent his post-surgery days at Good Samaritan walking the hallways, making plans to return to work and his fitness routine.

Once home, Ed became an anomaly among the staff at the cardiology center in Henderson where he went for follow-ups. “Two to three weeks after surgery I’m doing one to two miles on the treadmill while the patients with conventional surgery are struggling to walk around the block. They all were amazed at the difference a robot can make.”

One year after surgery, Ed still shakes his head in disbelief at the experience. “I had none of the risk factors of heart disease,” he says. But he also counts himself among the lucky ones. “I’m still here and had a great doctor who can do heart surgery with a robot – that was not just a good thing, it was a God thing!”

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Last Updated: November 17, 2014