I had not been to Indiana for 42 years. But last week I found myself on a commuter train in Michigan City, Indiana taking my family on the South Shore Line to Chicago for the day. We were vacationing not far away on the shores of Lake Michigan.
The train was crowded so my group of six spread out where there were vacant seats. I found myself sitting with two men, father and grown son, on the way to a day at Wrigley Field and a Chicago Cubs baseball game. Before long the chit-chat turned to my work, and my explanation of patientpower.info sparked the telling of an incredible medical story from the older of the two men, a story of good luck and great medical care that has given him a second life.
Ed Dunifin, now 54, is a production manager at a packaging company in Portage, Indiana. Six years ago he was playing softball with friends when he didn’t feel well. He sat down and continued to watch the game. He ate, he drank. But he still didn’t feel well. The early signs of a heart attack? A nurse at the game checked for a pulse. She couldn’t find one. Dunifin was turning gray. As my seatmate explained, it was surreal to him. As the game ended – and yes, he waited! – he was driven to the emergency room. They checked him over. Nothing. They checked some more. Nothing. Finally after hours they found the root of the problem deep in his chest. His aorta, the body’s major artery, was starting to dissect. If it blew open he could be dead in a flash. Very, very few people survive. And those are the ones where usually the dissection or an aneurysm that is about to burst are spotted coincidentally when doctors are looking for something else.
Dunifin was rushed by ambulance to a bigger hospital in Kalamazoo, Michigan where heart surgeon Dr. Alphonse DeLucia was prepped and ready to try to save his life. During a nine hour surgery he wrapped Dacron mesh around the artery to prevent a break. DeLucia told Dunifin it was only the second time he’d performed the surgery because most all other patients had not survived long enough to make it to him.
The computer train rumbled on and Dunifin kept talking.