Patient Stories at NCH

Larry's Story

home is where the heart is

Home is where the heart is


Larry Harris lives more than an hour from Northwest Community Hospital, but the 57-year-old did not hesitate to make the trip for coronary triple bypass surgery.

After experiencing chest pains in late October, Larry visited a hospital near him, where he was diagnosed with severe coronary artery disease. While being treated, he went into cardiac arrest and required a tracheostomy, a surgery that creates a hole in the front of the neck and into the trachea to provide an air passage.

There was more. After a week in his local hospital, Larry was moved to a facility where he could receive prolonged ventilator care close to his home. He needed to be weaned off mechanical ventilation by pulmonologists and therapists before undergoing coronary bypass surgery.

“One day I looked at the calendar and realized the entire month of November was over,” Larry says. “I was in this waiting mode, and the rest of the world was moving on. I wanted to be home for the holidays with my children and fiancée.”

Confidence in NCH

It was about this time when Larry’s cardiologist referred him to Vu Hoang, M.D., a cardiothoracic surgeon on staff at NCH who specializes in minimally invasive heart surgery. Once Larry was cleared to return home, he picked up the phone and made an appointment with Dr. Hoang. Larry hoped he could schedule surgery before Christmas.

“Dr. Hoang and his staff told me everything I needed to know about coronary bypass surgery,” Larry recalls. “Dr. Hoang told me the number of bypasses required depends on the location and severity of the blockages in my heart. I felt confident in coming to NCH.”

Dr. Hoang, who began treating patients at NCH last year, has performed more than 4,000 cardiothoracic surgical procedures. “I am so moved when a patient’s surgery is successful, and he or she leaves the hospital and regains quality of life,” Dr. Hoang says.

In bypass surgery, the surgeon takes a healthy blood vessel from another part of the body and connects it to the diseased coronary artery on the heart, just past the blockage. This creates a bypass around the diseased artery and restores normal blood flow to the heart muscle.

Home with Family

Larry’s triple bypass was scheduled for December 12 at NCH. His son, three daughters and fiancée were by his side before the surgery. He was nervous in undergoing a major procedure but knew he would benefit from it.

“My main concern was waking up from the anesthesia,” Larry says. Several hours later, “I saw my one daughter and my fiancée. I knew I had made it through.”

Later that day, Larry was able to sit up in his hospital bed and visit with family members. The next day he was walking down the hospital hallway. Just four days after his triple bypass surgery, Larry was discharged and headed home—in time for the holidays.

“I was really surprised that my operation was on a Friday and I came home the following Tuesday,” Larry says. “I have nothing but praise for the care I received at NCH. It turned out to be a great holiday season.”

Larry H. photo
Larry H.