Ronny 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 with their spouses, and 11 grandchildren—20 family members in all.
On September 25, 2008, Ronny was at the grocery store carrying bags to his car when he felt a terrible pain in his upper back and chest. 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 Houston Methodist Hospital in Houston. Dr. Cabrero quickly diagnosed that Ronny 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 Houston Methodist, who told him to get Dr. Michael Reardon, chief of cardiac surgery at Houston Methodist, to treat Ronny immediately.
The next morning, Ronny was medivaced to Houston 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 Houston Methodist, I would not be alive,” Ronny said.
“Patients like Ronny are the reason we created the Acute Aortic Treatment Center (AATC),” Dr. Reardon said. “Like a stroke, acute problems of the aorta are deadly if not treated quickly and with a high level of expertise.” Houston 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 Houston 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.
Read more patient stories:
- Jesse Aldrich
- Felicia Galloway
- Henry Ham
- Brian Hodder
- Rose Joubert
- Kurt Salziger
- Mark Staudt
- Gilbert Swagger
- J. Rob Walker
For more information about the Houston Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center, please call 713-DEBAKEY (332-2539) or complete our online contact us form.