Our Stories

The reason that many people give is to leave a legacy that touches the lives of others.  By sharing stories of grateful patients, gracious donors and others touched by Martha Jefferson, we show you how gifts to Martha Jefferson Cardiology Care are resulting in improved health and wellbeing.

Cardiology Care at Martha Jefferson Hospital

A successful partner in a busy Atlanta law firm, Rex Lamb had little time to worry about his heart condition.  Diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a serious disease of the heart muscle, Rex was fortunate not to have any of the disease's unusual symptoms, which can include irregular heartbeat, fatigue and breathlessness.  His cardiologist regularly monitored his condition and had him on a medication commonly used to prevent the disease from worsening and to reduce the risk of complications.

In early 2007, Lamb and his wife retired to Lexington, VA.  And that April, Lamb had his first appointment with his new cardiologist at Martha Jefferson, Dr. Chris Friend. 
Five years after his diagnosis, Rex remained free from symptoms, and his condition was stable.  Still exercising and enjoying his active outdoor hobbies, life for Rex went on basically in normal fashion.

Dr. Friend evaluated Rex’s condition and strongly recommended that he undergo a procedure to implant an internal cardioverter defibrillator (ICD).  Tiny wires attach an ICD to the heart, allowing the device to monitor the heart’s activity; store information; and restore the heart to a regular rhythm, should it began to develop a life-threatening irregular beat.  The ICD restores the heart’s rhythm by “firing”, or delivering an electrical impulse to the heart muscle.

“My first question was, ‘why would I need and ICD?”  recalled Rex of Dr. Friend’s recommendation.  “I had no symptoms and hadn’t experienced any problems since my cardiomyopathy diagnosis five years earlier.  Dr. Friend’s response got my attention.  He said that oftentimes, the first symptom is sudden death.”

Just a few weeks later, Dr. Friend implanted Rex’s ICD in Martha Jefferson’s Electrophysiology (EP) Lab, and Rex went home the next day.

Another year went by for Rex with no heart problems.  And then on May 15, 2008, he went to the Lexington YMCA for his morning workout.  While on the elliptical trainer, he had a brief sense of feeling lightheaded.  And then, without any other warning that he was in trouble, his ICD fired three times within 15 seconds – which was more than enough for him to stop and take notice.

“I sat on the floor for a minute, coming to grips with what had just happened,” share Rex.  “I decided that I felt alright, so I got my car keys and drove home to my wife.”

After a call to Dr. Friend, Rex’s wife drove him to Martha Jefferson, where he underwent several tests, including a cardiac catheterization.  Cardiologists found a major blockage in one of his coronary arteries and implanted a stent to keep the artery open.

When the cardiac device team retrieved the data from Rex’s ICD, they found that his heart rate had gotten as high as 260 beats per minute – more than four times the rate of a normal heartbeat – in the seconds before the ICD fired.  Without the ICD, Rex’s first symptom of trouble likely would have been his last.

“The best decision I ever made was choosing Martha Jefferson for my cardiac care,” said Lamb.

MARTHA JEFFERSON HOSPITAL FOUNDATION

500 Martha Jefferson Drive
Charlottesville, Virginia 22911
Phone: (434) 654-8258
Fax: (434) 654-7316
MJH_Foundation@sentara.com

 

 

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