This survivor battled Covid-19 and an imminent heart attack — and won
September 24, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.
A patient struggles to survive with Covid-19 and an imminent heart attack, while his surgeon works to keep him alive during the height of New York City's Covid-19 crisis. Here's what they have to say to us after the ordeal.
"I've had a lot of wonderful experiences and achieved a lot of things that I dreamed about doing," said Bettinelli, who now teaches drumming from his home office overlooking the Hudson in Dobbs Ferry, New York.
"After Covid-19 he had robotic, minimally invasive coronary bypass surgery, which comprises less than 1% of all cardiac surgery," said Dr. John Puskas, chair of cardiovasular surgery at Mount Sinai Morningside in New York City, who operated on Bettinelli.
It was early February -- Covid-19 was still a distant threat in China -- when Bettinelli learned that he was in danger of having a "widow maker" heart attack.
"I've always kept myself in shape," Bettinelli said.
Bettinelli's surgery was elective because he had an unusual advantage: His heart had grown a new artery to compensate for reduced blood flow -- yet another example of his charmed life.
"It's the heart's way of basically doing a bypass," Bettinelli said.
Despite being a high-risk priority due to his heart disease -- one of the conditions that often makes Covid-19 turn deadly -- Bettinelli couldn't get through the lines at the hospital to be seen.
But they would not take the disease seriously, Bettinelli said.
Despite the constant stress, Puskas worried about his patient, hoping Bettinelli would not join the masses in the hospital's ICUs.
"He was the very first patient who had Covid-19 that we operated on and he was one of the first patients for whom we did any cardiac surgery after the peak passed here in New York," Puskas said.
"The next day I was up on my feet walking, and they couldn't believe it," Bettinelli said.
The hospital staff also couldn't believe that a patient facing critical surgery would bring his drumsticks to the hospital, Puskas said.
Bettinelli explained himself to Puskas just after the surgery, using the sticks as he spoke.