Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine.
Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Methodist Cardiovascular Surgery Associates

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Acute Aortic Treatment Center (AATC) Patient Story

Mr. Rony Yon, entrepreneur from Guatemala – Aortic Dissection

Mr. Rony Yon & Family

Mr. Rony Yon had always been healthy. A life-long entrepreneur, he was independent and active, often taking his large family to their beach house and making a yearly trip from their home in Guatemala to Disney World with his wife, four children, spouses, and eleven grand children – 20 family members in all.

On Thursday, Sept. 25, 2008, Mr. Yon was at the grocery store carrying bags to his car when he felt a terrible pain in his upper back and chest. The pain was so intense, he put the groceries down and sat down.

By the time he got home, the pain was so severe, he knew something was terribly wrong. He told his family he wouldn’t survive.

His family called lifelong friend and cardiologist, Dr. Marco Cabrero, who trained at The Methodist Hospital in Houston. Dr. Cabrero quickly diagnosed that Mr. Yon was experiencing a very deadly acute aortic dissection, the same condition that killed actor John Ritter.

Each year, 25,000 Americans die from acute aortic dissections. It is a condition that needs immediate attention. For every hour it is left untreated, mortality increases one to two percent.

Dr. Cabrero called Dr. Rafael Espada, vice president of Guatemala and former cardiac surgeon at Methodist, who told him to get Dr. Michael Reardon, chief of cardiac surgery at Methodist, to treat Mr. Yon immediately.

The next morning, Mr. Yon was medivaced to Methodist, and was in the OR within an hour after arriving at the hospital. “The truth is that it was a miracle. If they had not brought me to Methodist, I would not be alive,” Mr. Yon said. In 2007, Dr. Reardon and Dr. Alan Lumsden, chair of cardiovascular surgery at The Methodist Hospital, started the Acute Aortic Treatment Center (AATC), the first center of its kind designed to rapidly and effectively treat acute syndromes affecting the aorta.

“Patients like Mr. Yon are the reason we created this center,” Dr. Reardon said. “Like a stroke, acute problems of the aorta are deadly if not treated quickly and with a high level of expertise.” The Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center has the equipment, the protocol, and most importantly, the experience in diagnosing and treating high-risk cardiac conditions such as these.

"These are some of the most complex medical problems out there, and Methodist has the resources and team approach to be able to handle them properly," said Dr. Lumsden, team leader for the AATC.

A little over two weeks after his surgery, he was headed home to Guatemala to celebrate his 71st birthday with his family. His daughter said that they all talked it over and want to celebrate as if it’s his first birthday.