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Survivor Series Saturday Featuring Christina Nowlin


Our story starts August 2019 when my husband had a heart attack.


He ended up having a stent put in after his heart attack but leaving a 60% blockage that was deemed not stent worthy yet. All is well after that big emergency. So it seemed.


November 2019, I had woken up, felt like I gained 10 lbs of extra weight that seemed to be put on overnight. I was unable to catch my breath, gasping, feeling like I was running a marathon race. My husband drove me to the ER where my heart was beating 200 beats per minute. I was cardioverted and given a few tests. That's when they found the 3.2 cm aneurysm. I was watched by cardiologist Dr. Naz, VCU Pauley Heart Center for 2 years. In and out of the hospital for afib and tikosyn study.


December 2021 my aneurysm grew to 5.2cm so my cardiologist advised me then it was time to see the cardiac thoracic surgeon, Dr. Katherine Klein with VCU Pauley Heart Center. It was decided that it was time for surgery. Feb. 28, 2022, was my date.


Surgery day came and everything went well. I had the following median sternotomy with root and ascending aorta replacement, aortic valve sparing, with LAA (Left Atrial Appendage) occlusion, RFA (Radiofrequency Ablation) and ASD (Atrial Septal Defect) repair with Dr. Klein. I had surgery trauma for months afterward.


December 2022, my husband is not looking so well and out of breath. He has an appointment with his cardiologist to have a left heart cath. At this point we were thinking that 60% blockage is due for a stent. The appointment did not go as we thought. He now has 4 blockages, and the doctors are thinking he will need a quadruple bypass is in the near future.


My husband went to the VCU hospital and received a second opinion with Dr Josh Chery with VCU Pauley Heart Center. He had surgery just 2 weeks after his original appointment with Dr. Chery. He ended up with double bypass surgery (OHS) January 30, 2023. He is now being followed by a VCU Cardiologist/Interventionist for continued care.


I ask the question that no one can answer - what are the odds of wife and husband both having open heart surgery within 11 months of each other?


Christina Nowlin


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