Grateful Patient Becomes a Grateful Donor

Published 6/25/2019

Photo11_Dave-Brownell-1.jpgWhen Dave Brownell was just 52 years old, his company doctor at Tyco International took a listen to his heart and noticed something didn’t sound right. Then the doctor who performed a catheterization at Exeter Hospital discovered a congenital heart defect—Dave’s right coronary artery was attached to the left side of his heart. Because of that position, the artery had a significant blockage and needed a bypass.

“I looked at Lahey, Mass General, New York Hospitals,” recalls Dave, “but everyone I knew, in the medical field, recommended CMC. At the time, Dr. (Benjamin) Westbrook was pioneering beating heart surgery. CMC was doing as many procedures as some of the Massachusetts hospitals, but I knew here the doc I talked to would be the doc who did my surgery.”

Overall, Dave was in great health and the rest of his heart was fine. Dr. Westbrook used part of Dave’s mammary vessel to do the bypass. The surgery went great and the scar was small. Dave was out of CMC in three days and back to work in about four weeks.

Twenty-two years later and retired, Dave had outlived the typical span of bypass surgery. Another catheterization revealed that he needed a new bypass. He came back to CMC and Dr. Westbrook again did the procedure.

“This time they had to harvest from the leg and they did have to break my sternum, but I was still out in five days,” says Dave, noting that he feels fine and exercises regularly. “My confidence level (in CMC and Dr. Westbrook) was good the first time and even better the second time. I felt very comfortable with Dr. Westbrook and everybody I dealt with at CMC.”

Dave, who also had prostate cancer surgery at CMC, shows his appreciation for that care through donating. “With the experiences I’ve had at CMC, both at the New England Heart & Vascular Institute and in treating my prostate cancer, I’m confident the work that is being done here is high quality and the patients here come first. I was very comfortable writing a check to CMC because I realize what they’re doing is of value not just to Manchester but to the whole state, and we should support that.”