Kelly: Omaha doctor survives close call with ‘the widowmaker’ heart attack | Health

While performing a total knee replacement, a surgeon didn’t feel so well — for good reason. He didn’t yet know it, but he was having a heart attack.

Not yet in severe pain, he finished the surgery just fine. But the doctor soon would become a dangerously ill patient.

He sat down and said to his PA, or physician assistant: “I’m having crushing substernal chest pain.”

It turned out to be a 99 percent arterial blockage in the left anterior descending artery. A blockage there carries a grisly nickname:

“The widowmaker.”

In this case, through some fast work and maybe because he was already in a hospital, Dr. Michael McGuire, 68, survived.

And so his wife, Anne McGuire, a 21-year elected member of the Omaha Public Power District board of directors, was not made a widow.

The McGuires live in Omaha, but he operates at the Columbus Community Hospital, 90 miles away. On July 11, after he was stricken, an ER doctor stabilized the ashen orthopedic surgeon and got him on a helicopter to Omaha.

At Creighton University Medical Center-Bergan Mercy, a stent was inserted to clear the blockage.

“Two hours after I was doing surgery,” McGuire now observes, “I was being operated on.”

That may or may not be some kind of record. He had a very close call, and he’s grateful to all who helped him survive.

But think of it — a doctor having a heart attack while doctoring?

He’s never smoked, he lightly drinks, he’s not obese, not diabetic and his cholesterol counts were good, under 200. His blood pressure, he said, was typically 110/60.

So why did he suffer a heart attack? Maybe it was his genes.

* * *

McGuire’s grandfather died of a heart attack at 63, and his father at 77.

Mike soon called his year-younger brother, Patrick, in Washington state and said, “Here’s the deal …”

His brother got the message and…

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