Posted at: 12/25/2012 8:51 PM
Updated at: 12/26/2012 8:34 AM
By: Brett Davidsen
A Seneca County man who thought he would not live to see Christmas, is celebrating new life.
Lee Hoaglan was in hospice care after suffering from progressive heart failure.
News10NBC is told he is on the road to recovery after a surgeon in Ohio was willing to operate when others were not.
For Lee Hoaglan, this is truly a season to treasure, spending the holidays with friends at the Verona Village Senior Living Apartments in Ovid.
He wasn't supposed to be here.
Hoaglan had had four open heart surgeries from 2006 to 2009.
And now, he needed another.
"I could feel it every day, getting weaker and weaker," said Hoaglan.
Lee Hoaglan was fading fast.
However, doctors here felt he was too weak to attempt another surgery and not a candidate for a heart transplant.
"They basically said, do what you want to do, be friends with your clergy and see all your friends and do the best you can do with what you got left," Hoaglan said.
He was placed in hospice care and told he would probably not make it to Christmas. A paramedic with Monroe Ambulance for nearly 30 years, Hoaglan helped save lives, but was now being told there was nothing more that could be done to save his.
"It was upsetting, but being in health care a lot of my life, I learned to accept it," he said.
He had accepted his mortality, but not given up.
Thankfully, neither did the physician's assistant at his primary care doctor's office who had forwarded Hoaglan's medical files to the Cleveland Clinic.
Then one night in June he got a phone call at home.
"I answered the phone, the surgeon, Dr. Pettersson was actually on the other end of the phone and talked to me and said, I've reviewed your tapes and I want you to come out and see me in July," said Hoaglan.
"This is my destiny in life to try to help people who other surgeons don't think they want to help or think that they can't help anymore," said Dr. Gosta Pettersson.
"I said, well, live in Hospice or attempt something. So I said, let's go. Let's attempt something," said Hoaglan.
He left for Cleveland, not sure if he'd return home and put his life in the hands of Dr. Gosta Pettersson, who performed the high risk 5-hour surgery.
"What he had was a leaky aortic vale and leaky mitral valve. We knew he had problems with his reconstructed coronary arteries, so the operation was to take all this apart and take it out and rebuild the heart," said Pettersson.
Hoaglan is now on the road to recovery, told it could be 10 years before he will need any additional heart procedures, given a new lease on life by a doctor confident in his skills and able to help Hoaglan experience another Christmas.
"That's the reward. That's the reward. The clinic pays me, but that's not the reward," said Pettersson.
"I am very, very lucky. Very fortunate. I have had a lot of good people looking out for me," said Hoaglan.
Lee Hoaglan says the message he wants people to get from his story is that patients need to be their own advocates, seek out other options, other opinions. Call whomever you have to call. As for Lee, he continues to build up his physical strength and will return to Cleveland for a follow up visit, fittingly, on February 14th.