Barry Forman: New Aorta and Valve Saves His Life
On the morning of July 8, 2008, 47-year-old Barry Forman of West Bridgewater returned home from his morning workout at the gym when he felt a sudden onset of chest and lower back pain. Suspecting a heart attack, Barry called his primary care doctor and was told to immediately go to the nearest emergency room. Physicians quickly discovered that he had a rather rare condition known as aortic dissection - a tear in the aorta as it comes out of the heart.
Barry was rushed via Medflight to the CardioVascular Institute (CVI) at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center for an emergency replacement of his ascending aorta and aortic arch. While in the operating room, his surgeons discovered that the valve between his aorta and his heart was damaged and that it, too, would need replacing. In 9 hours of surgery, surgeons Kamal Khabbaz, MD, and Venkatachalam Senthilnathan, MD successfully repaired Barry's heart.
During the surgery, the surgeons had to reimplant the main vessels of the to Barry's new synthetic aorta. That always carries a risk of stroke or other brain damage. Any indication of such an incident would not be obvious until the next day. "Much to our relief, we received a call around 11 the next morning letting us know that they had roused him up and that he was responsive. His vitals were strong and he was able to move his arms and legs upon command." Barry's daughter, Marissa, said on a blog created by his family to chronicle the events.
Barry spent the next nine days recovering in the CardioVascular ICU under the expert care of the CardioVascular ICU team. While Barry's physical needs were being met by the team, BIDMC provided experienced counselors to meet the emotional needs of his family, bringing calm to them during a very turbulent time. Once Barry's vitals were stabilized, he was transferred to the cardiovascular surgical floor for another four days and then two more weeks at a rehabilitation facility. By August 5, Barry was able to return to the comfort of his own home.
There is a long road ahead, but only two months after his surgery, Barry is recovering well and already doing again the things he loves like fishing and playing the drums. "Thank you to the cardiac surgical team at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center for all of your knowledge and amazing talent in knowing how to save people's lives," he says. "It's just beyond my understanding of body mechanics to even think you know how to do this."