Edgerton McIntosh, 71, was in his kitchen drilling holes on the wall to place brackets for curtains, when he suddenly felt sick, had pain in both arms and chest, started sweating and felt abnormally weak. His wife, Thelma McIntosh, knew something was not right, and drove him to the emergency department at Jackson South Medical Center, worried about the love of her life whom she had been married to for over 40 years.

What the medical team saw upon his arrival on June 20, reflected signs of cardiac activity.

His medical team immediately performed an electrocardiogram (EKG) to check for signs of electrical activity of the heartbeat, which confirmed he was having a heart attack.  A cardiac catheterization was also performed to examine how well his heart was working, but blockage was so severe that it was determined he would need open-heart surgery.

“I just thought he wasn’t feeling well,” recalled his wife. “We had no idea he was having a heart attack – I was totally devastated!”

McIntosh had never been to a hospital, had always been physically active, had good eating habits, and had never shown signs of any heart condition or cardiovascular disease. Even into older age, his blood pressure had always remained on the low side – typically the opposite is what leads to heart attacks.

The team at Jackson South knew every second mattered. He was transferred to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU) to be under the care of a multidisciplinary team from Jackson Heart Institute, which was led by Romualdo Segurola, MD, FACS, chief of cardiac surgery for Jackson Health System and medical director for cardiothoracic surgery for Jackson North Medical Center and Jackson South Medical Center.

“He needed three procedures, which included a coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) to restore blood flow to the heart, closure of patent foramen ovale (PFO), which is a hole between the left and upper chambers of the heart, and an exclusion of left atrial appendage (LAA), where clots form” said Dr. Segurola. “Helping patients such as Mr. McIntosh is the most rewarding part of my job.”

The anxious couple was still processing the news and the concerns that come with undergoing this risky procedure. They had been inseparable for as long as they could remember. This was the first time they had to deal with such a life-altering health issue.

“I started thinking I’d never see my grandchildren again,” said McIntosh. “But after meeting Dr. Segurola and the medical team, I got reassurance that I was in the right hands.  The team handled me with great care – they were both professional and compassionate.”

On June 24, McIntosh’s family waited several anxious hours, while he underwent surgery.

“What an amazing relief I experienced when Dr. Segurola, appeared with a smile on his face and told me that the surgery was over and was very successful!  Tears of joy flowed as all my emotions broke loose, in that moment of overwhelming relief and gratitude,” said Mrs. McIntosh. “I am thankful to God and the wonderful medical team at Jackson – from the nurses to the doctors and also the ambulance transport staff who kept us calm and comfortable on our late night transfer to Jackson Memorial.  To our family, church and friends, a big thank you for your warm support during the ordeal.”

The Cutler Bay residents have since returned home. Although McIntosh will need cardiac rehab for 12 weeks as post-care, he is feeling fantastic and committed to getting better, so he can spend more time with his grandchildren.

“They are so special to me, I want to be alive for them,” said McIntosh. “The treatment from the staff at Jackson was heartfelt and I thank them for everything they did for me.”