An International Flight Results in a Lifesaving Miracle: Ronny’s Story

At 71, Ronny Yon was making a yearly trip to Disney World with his wife, children and grandchildren from their home in Guatemala when, on September 25, 2008, he felt a sudden pain in his upper back and chest. After the flight home, the pain became so severe he thought he was dying and told his family he did not think he would survive.

Yon’s wife called Dr. Marco Cabrero, a friend and cardiologist, who had trained at Houston Methodist, and made an emergency appointment. The diagnosis was acute aortic dissection, a life-threatening condition. On average, mortality increases one to two percent for every hour an acute aortic aneurysm is left untreated. Yon’s time was running out, but he was lucky to have the support of his quick-acting wife and his doctor.

Dr. Cabrero called Dr. Rafael Espada, a former cardiac surgeon at Houston Methodist (who happened to be vice president of the country at the time), who recommended that Yon fly to Houston to be treated by Dr. Michael Reardon, chief of cardiac surgery at Houston Methodist. Espada made the call to his colleague Dr. Reardon, who agreed to have everything ready the next day.

Yon was on the next flight and was in the operating room within an hour after arriving at Houston Methodist. “The truth is that it was a miracle. If they had not brought me to Houston Methodist, I would not be alive,” Yon said.

“Patients like Ronny are the reason we created the Acute Aortic Treatment Center,” Reardon said. “Like a stroke, acute problems of the aorta are deadly if not treated quickly and with a high level of expertise.” At Houston Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center, our doctors have the equipment, the protocol and, most importantly, the experience to diagnose and treat high-risk cardiac conditions such as acute aortic aneurysm without undue delay.

“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, medical director of Houston Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center.

A little over two weeks after his surgery, Ronny returned home to Guatemala to celebrate his 71st birthday with his family and friends, including Dr. Cabrero.

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