Tulsa resident Jim Davidson was not one to visit the doctor often. After experiencing an ear ache towards the end of 2017, Davidson would learn that he would be visiting physicians much more often in the coming months.
“In late October I went to the emergency room because my ear felt clogged and while I was there they took my vitals and listened to my heart. The doctor asked if I knew that I had a heart murmur, which I did. Because I was 67 years old, he told me that I should have that examined. I scheduled an appointment with my primary care physician who performed a heart echo. After looking at the echo results, he said I needed to see a cardiologist.”
Davidson ended up meeting his future cardiologist soon after seeing his primary care physician, but in an unexpected way. “At that time, I had never seen a cardiologist,” said Davidson. “I have several friends I play golf with who are doctors. One evening, I was having dinner with one of them at the club where we play and he said he wanted to introduce me to Dr. Michael Phillips, one of his friends who was a cardiologist. I visited with Dr. Phillips and told him about my heart murmur. He said he would be more than happy to take a look at my records and get me into Oklahoma Heart Institute.” Davidson had his records sent to Dr. Phillips who then put him in contact with Dr. Frank Gaffney.
Further testing showed that Davidson had more issues than just a heart murmur. “During my first appointment with Dr. Gaffney, he performed a heart catheterization,” said Davidson. “The results were that I had a 30 percent blockage in one artery, an aneurysm about the size of my thumb and I needed to have an aortic valve replaced due to calcification, all of which pointed to the fact I needed to have surgery soon. When surgery time came, there were unexpected complications. The surgical team opened me up and found that everything was a bit closer together than they expected,” said Davidson. “They tried doing the bypass on the aneurysm, but it started to bleed and was hard to control.”
The complications caused the surgery to go on much longer than anticipated. “When the bleeding had finally stopped, they closed me up but the tubes filled with blood again. It turns out they had to reopen me up at total of three times during the actual surgery making it last about 10 hours longer than it was supposed to. Luckily, I was in great hands with Dr. Phillips and his team. They ended up using coagulation factor X, which is a man-made protein that helps the blood to clot, to stop the bleeding. Once that issue was under control, a few extra steps were taken to get me out of surgery. They had to use a type of super glue in order for the stitching to hold because my heart had endured so much in such a short amount of time.”
Once Davidson was out of surgery he was moved to the intensive care unit. “I was in ICU for over 20 days, which was a lot longer than the three to five days I expected to stay in there,” said Davidson. “The nurses couldn’t have been better and they did so much for me. I could have gone anywhere to have the surgery but I had heard so many great things about Oklahoma Heart Institute and what a wonderful surgeon Dr. Phillips was. I’m so happy that I chose to have everything done here in Tulsa.”
More than six months after surgery, Davidson is doing well. “I’m back to playing 18 holes of golf three times a week,” said Davidson. “My stamina hasn’t fully returned yet, but I know that could take up to a year. I am seeing Dr. Gaffney for follow up appointments and I keep touch with Dr. Phillips. He has told me many times that I am very lucky to have survived what I went through. If it wasn’t for Oklahoma Heart Institute and meeting Dr. Phillips, I probably wouldn’t have made it. The care I received was absolutely wonderful.”