Greg and Dr. Stewart Complete Triathlon… Together!!!
As Dr. Allan Stewart wrote to me, “We did it!”
“It” was the New York City triathlon.
Dr. Allan Stewart (Surgeon) with Greg O’Keeffe (His Patient)
The “We” was…
- Dr. Allan Stewart, Director of the Aortic Valve Surgery Program at New York-Presbyterian Hospital / Columbia Medical Center, and
- Greg O’Keeffe, Dr. Stewart’s patient who had aortic valve replacement just two years ago.
You may recall that Greg dared Dr. Stewart to complete the endurance event to celebrate his surgery and raise awareness to heart valve disease. The triathlon included a 40-km bike ride, a 1500-meter swim in the Hudson River and 10-km run.
Three days before the race, I met Dr. Stewart for lunch in New York City. There, I learned that Dr. Stewart, who lost 25 pounds while training, had recently fractured two ribs during a biking accident.
“The swim is going to be the hardest part,” Dr. Stewart told me as we walked along Fort Washington Avenue. “If I can make it through that, I’ll be fine.”
Make it he did.
Dr. Stewart, who performed over 300 cardiac procedures last year (most of which involved heart valve disorders), completed the triathlon in 3:45:51. The 28-year old O’Keeffe, who co-founded EarthAid, finished the race in 3:03:59.
Greg O’Keeffe Riding In The Triathlon
As the New York Times reported, “Their postrace reunion was an unusual sight in Central Park. As runners crossed the finish line one by one and went their separate ways, Stewart and O’Keeffe posed for photographs together and reflected on their friendship.”
Needless to say, completing a triathlon is an extraordinary accomplishment. But, for me, hearing about this unique relationship between heart valve patient and cardiac surgeon was also extraordinarily… inspiring.
Congratulations to Doctor Allan Stewart and Greg O’Keeffe!!!
Keep on tickin!
Adam Pick is a patient, author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery and the founder of HeartValveSurgery.com.