Patient Success Week: From a Cardiac Arrest to Running Across the Finish Line, This is Brian’s Story
By Adam Pick on July 15, 2015
A cardiac arrest. A medical coma. A mitral valve prolapse. An enlarged heart.
A will to live. A family to love. A desire to run.
This is the story of Brian Walsh…
Many thanks to Brian, Shea, Logan, Levi and Kyle for sharing their story with us during Patient Success Week. In addition, I would like to thank Dr. David Adams and the Mount Sinai Hospital team — Gideon Sims, Flo Kelemen and Lauren Woods — for their ongoing support and care provided to this community.
- See Brian’s Heart Valve Journal
- Learn about Dr. David Adams, Brian’s surgeon
- Visit MitralValveRepair.org
Keep on tickin’ and runnin’ Brian!!!
P.S. For the hearing impaired members of our community, please find below a written transcript of Brian’s video.
Shea: I’d been on the other line with my sister. I got another phone call and they tell me that the EMS is coming to pick up Brian; that they got him breathing again. My immediate response was what do you mean they got him breathing again? It took a while to dawn on me what was really going on.
Brian: I had a relatively healthy heart. The only thing was what they’d already known about, which was a slight mitral valve prolapse with minor regurgitation. It took about three years before I got the call from my doctor that I needed to come back in. I was told that I now had moderate to severe regurgitation and I was in need of having mitral valve repair, I went to my car and I remember shedding a few tears and wondering what to deal with now.
Shea: He didn’t understand; didn’t know why, wanted answers and I just had to wait.
Brian:I had come to find out that my heart was actually growing in size. Even though I wasn’t having symptoms, my heart was growing, which was becoming malformed. What scared me most about it was I had become active in running. Literally in April of that year, I’d finished my first half-marathon in just over two hours. It just became a way to challenge myself and a way to just disconnect. Just be out in the air and really just connect with God and connect with myself. The thoughts of losing something I had grown to love in running, potentially forever, was the initially worst case scenario. My Cardiologist tells me, “You need to have this kind of surgery.” He showed me the Dr. Adams website, mitralvalverepair.org. He’s the number one in the world for it; go see him.
Shea: I went to see Dr. Adams with him. It wasn’t just my husband they were fixing; they knew that they were fixing a father and it was important. They saw we were important.
Brian: Dr. Adams was just a breath of fresh air for me. I did need something quickly. He also just put me at complete ease. He made me feel very comfortable that I knew him. Without a doubt, he was going to take care of things and I wasn’t going to be back there again. My recovery has been fantastic. Once I’d been checked out okay, I went back to my normal life completely. I’m back into work now. I’m back into my running, which was a challenge at first considering how much you lose after six months off from running, but I went full steam ahead.
Shea: When Brian started running again after surgery, he was elated. You’ve never seen anybody so happy, and he was tired. He’d been a little out of shape and had to get back into it. He just was enjoying it. He’s going to keep pushing that limit, and he can.
Brian: When I run now, it’s a reminder that I’m still going and God still has a use for me. It’s a connection. I can motivate others to get beyond excuses and still keep themselves healthy and still keep themselves going. I remember when I completed the St. Luke’s Half-Marathon, the second time after my heart surgery; it was overwhelmingly emotional when I came through. When I crossed that finish line, I proved that heart valve surgery wasn’t the end.
Shea: Dr. Adams and Mount Sinai, they gave me a blessing. They gave my husband his life back. They gave him the opportunity to be able to do all the things that even he never thought he could do. They gave me my husband and the father of our children back.