Precautionary Test Led to Emergency Triple Bypass Surgery for One Glenpool Resident

A few weeks before Christmas 2019, Deborah Timmons, 69, decided she wanted to look into getting a hearing aid. Since she had recently moved to Glenpool, she figured she’d establish a new primary care provider closer to home.

At her first appointment, her new provider advised some tests as a routine precaution– an EKG, blood work, a coronary angiogram – typical tests for a woman over 50 to get done when establishing a new primary care provider. Timmons was reluctant at first but continued with the tests.

On Dec. 21, Timmons completed the list of preliminary tests and received a phone call back that same day.

“The doctor I’d seen called me and said, ‘Go to Oklahoma Heart Institute immediately,’” said Timmons. “She said, ‘I mean go now, you don’t have time to wait.’”

When Timmons arrived at Oklahoma Heart Institute, they ran some tests and immediately admitted her.

“I guess I was kind of a walking time bomb,” said Timmons. “It was very bad.”  

Deborah was told she’d need an emergency coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG), also known as bypass surgery, on three damaged arteries. With the news coming only a few days before Christmas, her mind was racing trying to process everything she’d been told.

“When I arrived, I was checked-in and I didn’t have time to think about who I would use or anything, they said I’d just have to use the doctor who was there, the one that was on call, and it happened to be Dr. [Ajit K.] Tharakan,” said Timmons. “I mean I could’ve gotten anyone and I’m so grateful it was Dr. Tharakan.”

The surgery was promptly scheduled for Dec. 23.

The suddenness of it all was one of the hardest parts for Timmons and her family, but she maintains Tharakan was a saving grace.

“Dr. Tharakan came in once we figured out I needed the surgery and he explained what we were going to have to do, and even though my head was spinning, there was a sense of calm he brought when he walked into the room,” said Timmons. “He’s truly like an angel amid our nervousness and fear, he was just so kind and reassuring.”

Timmons experienced an additional sense of relief when a relative, a cardiovascular critical care physician, stopped by her room and let her know she was in good hands with Tharakan.

“It’s kind of funny, my daughter-in-law’s sister is married to Adam Betz, M.D. at Oklahoma Heart Institute and he came when he heard I was in there and he said ‘Oh wow, you’re getting the best, and I’m not just telling you this,’” said Timmons. “‘If something happened to one of us or the rest of our family, and you called and asked me, I would recommend Dr. Tharakan.’ That was so comforting to hear. I just can’t say how wonderful Dr. Tharakan was, he saved my life. And everyone was just really, really great.”

Timmons recalls the actual procedure as a peaceful experience as well.

“In the operating room, I know I was probably getting ready to go under, but there was just a calmness coming from everyone in the room,” said Timmons. “I just felt like I was in good hands from the very beginning.”

Timmons is now over a year post-op and says she’s doing well and feels good.

Often with heart disease, there are no warning signs to indicate an issue, so it’s important to get routine tests and annual physicals to prevent unexpected health complications.

To schedule an appointment with a cardiologist at Oklahoma Heart Institute, please call 918-592-0999.