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Patient Stories - Holly Work

"I Googled 'best cardiac surgeon' and found Dr. Balkhy in Wisconsin."

Patient Name: Holly Work
Age: 46
Surgeon: Dr. Husam Balkhy
Procedure: Robotic double bypass surgery

Holly Work, an independent contractor who works out of her home, had a stroke in 2006 when she was only 43 years old. She was admitted to the hospital on a Friday, and checked herself out on Saturday morning when the hospital served her lunch in the cardiac unit of steak with a healthy layer of fat surrounding the meat.

Three years later on a Monday, she began feeling pain in her jaw and a burning sensation in her hands and feet that would come and go in no regular pattern. On Wednesday, she visited her doctor who thought she was having issues with her gall bladder and ordered tests for the following week. By Friday, the pain was so intense that she called the doctor, who prescribed muscle relaxants that did not help her pain. Sunday night, Holly lay in bed all night in too much pain to sleep. By 3 a.m. Monday morning, she woke her husband up to take her to the emergency room. She was having a heart attack. Within the hour, she was in the catheterization lab where they identified three blocked arteries, one of which was 100% blocked, the other two 80% blocked. Because each artery was clogged in multiple places, stents would not address her health issues and the hospital she had chosen did not perform bypass procedures.

Having seen both parents undergo open-chest bypass surgery and the resulting difficulties each faced, Holly was determined to find a less-invasive alternative. When she returned home, she googled "best cardiac surgeon." From the search, she found Wheaton Franciscan - The Wisconsin Heart Hospital and Dr. Husam Balkhy. Driving from Illinois to Wisconsin, she met with Dr. Balkhy who said she was a candidate for a minimally-invasive robotic double bypass procedure using Cardica's Flex-A stapling device to attach the arterial bypass grafts.

On October 12, 2009 she was admitted for surgery. Feeling a bit apprehensive just prior to the procedure, she asked Dottie, a member of Dr. Balkhy's surgical team, if she would hold her hand. Dottie gladly grabbed her hand and reassured her about the procedure. She later found out that Dottie never let go of her hand during the surgery.

The procedure went very well and Holly was up and walking around the hospital the following morning. She was discharged on the fourth day, and drove back to Illinois. From the time she was home, she was able to climb the flights of stairs in her home and return to normal activities. Today, she has no jaw pain or burning sensations in her limbs and no swelling. She believes her heart attack was a warning sign and that she was given a second chance at life, thanks to Dr. Balkhy.



Cardica, Inc. is now Dextera Surgical Inc. Dextera Surgical Inc. will continue to manufacture & distribute the Cardica-branded products.
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Dextera Surgicals stapling technology is designed to minimize operating time and to enable minimally-invasive and robot-assisted surgeries.
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