Patient Testimonials and Reviews
Jose Luis Villegas’ Story
TV news anchor/producer receives life-saving surgery for ascending aorta aneurysm rupture and tear.
I was at my home in Boca Raton getting ready to go to sleep because I had work the following day. I took a vitamin with some water and it felt like it was stuck. All of a sudden, I had a very intense pain in my back. I started to pace back and forth and called my girlfriend, Ivannia. I told her you have to take me to the hospital right now because I don’t think this is normal. At Delray Medical Center they did an EKG and CT scan and found I had tear in my aorta. It was a matter of life and death. I had an ascending aorta aneurysm rupture and tear. They transferred me to Florida Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale under the care of Dr. Erik Beyer, a cardiothoracic surgeon.
Dr. Beyer told Ivannia this was one of the most challenging surgeries he’s ever had because of the location of the tear – which happens to be in the root of where all the arteries connect to the coronary artery. Dr. Beyer said most tears are a few centimeters lower or higher than the root while mine was right in the curve where everything met. This was a very delicate surgery which had me and my girlfriend nervous. When Dr. Beyer spoke to me, I calmed down. He explained about the process and the dangers of aortic surgery. He took the time to explain what exactly he was going to do and I began to feel safe and secure, I wasn’t feeling scared. I felt very good.
Looking back, this condition I had may have been genetic. I never had any heart issues, my heart was always good. This problem was in my aorta. I do have high blood pressure and have a lot of stress in my line of work. The day I had the aorta tear, I had a really bad argument with someone and the stress could have aggravated this aorta tear. The surgery was almost ten hours. After the surgery, Ivannia said Dr. Beyer looked very exhausted but took the time to come out to the waiting room and explain to her and my family, in detail, everything that happened, everything I went through, the whole procedure and what to expect.
Dr. Beyer replaced my aortic valve with a porcine valve. Because this was a biotic prosthesis and not mechanical I don’t have to take blood thinners, which I think is amazing. I was only in the hospital for one week. The team was always attentive and anything I asked for they were always there for me. They never complained. I was so happy. I never had pain or any complaints. I think I had a dozen people taking care of me.
Dr. Beyer saved my life. He’s unbelievable. Dr. Beyer is like an angel. I think God sent him for me. Dr. Beyer sat with my girlfriend and my family members, which they appreciated because we do realize he could have walked out and said that I was okay and went on his way. Dr. Beyer was very calm, patient and very detail oriented. When I was in the hospital, Dr. Beyer was always there. He’s a very kind man. Dr. Beyer’s surgical assistant, James Jower, was unbelievable. He did my stiches and everything came out great. Everybody smiled at me and kept me positive. I think it was wonderful!
For follow-up appointments, Dr. Beyer’s office borders the hospital. The office is convenient, easy to get in and out of and the staff is very courteous. I can’t say enough about Dr. Beyer’s staff. Dr. Beyer’s staff and how they are fantastic!
My girlfriend and I are foodies. We love going out and trying new restaurants. My favorite food is sushi which I could eat every day. I also like Thai and Oriental food and I love red wine, my favorites are cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir. I told Dr. Beyer I love red wine and he said not only does he allow it, but he recommends having red wine. After I woke up from surgery, the first thing I wanted to do was eat. I had meatballs and it was great! My girlfriend said I never lost my appetite and wanted to walk right away. I’m very hyper and desperately wanted to get back on my feet.
I love to cook. With my new lease on life, I would love to open a small food truck with healthy food. Though, TV has always been one of my passions, I would like to produce small movies and short films, I would do it differently with local talent. It would be about the positive aspects of life. I have a news segment at the station that’s called “The Good News Segment” that is something I’d like to do – maybe make it a mini-series. We need to show positive things so people can have positive thinking. There’s too much negative in the world right now. My granddaughter Leighlani Sophia and son Jon Vincent are my main passion. I was thinking of them on the way to the operating room. Today, I feel great!
Robert Malvasi, a security guard, had cardiac ailments affecting his quality of life. Dr. Beyer performed robotic surgery to repair two of Robert’s leaky heart valves, installed a heart filter, and a procedure to halt Robert’s heart arrhythmia.
Robert had two leaky heart valves and an arrhythmia. He sometimes feels in life there are omens. His was when his feet swelled up with water. Robert’s cardiologist, Dr. Jyoti Mohanty, was very concerned and told him to get to the hospital. He was going to be scheduled for open heart surgery when he developed a stomach inflammation. This was tough news for Robert who until then had lived a very active lifestyle.
“My jobs during my career as an armed guard, K9 security officer and now part-time as a security guard have kept me on my feet. When not at work I am always doing something around the house or working in my yard,” Robert said.
Robert had developed diverticulitis which needed to be treated before any type of heart treatment could relieve his ailments. Once he recovered, Dr. Mohanty noticed Robert’s heart valves were getting worse and told Robert to go see Dr. Erik Beyer, a cardiothoracic surgeon.
“It turns out when the blood ran through the valves my heart became enlarged. Dr. Mohanty is a super cardiologist and he did an excellent job diagnosing my heart problems,” Robert says.
Robert made an appointment with Dr. Beyer to meet with him in his office. He said the office was convenient, the staff was helpful, that the consultation went great and he left feeling confident.
“When I learned of Dr. Beyer’s credentials and he told me he did heart and lung transplants, I said to my wife, Rose, that’s my doctor,” Robert says.
During surgery at Delray Medical Center, Dr. Beyer performed robotic surgery to repair two of Robert’s leaky heart valves and installed a heart filter. Additionally, to halt Robert’s heart arrhythmia, Dr. Beyer performed the MAZE procedure – a surgical treatment for Atrial Fibrillation (AFib).
“The arrhythmia is gone. Dr. Beyer performed these surgeries without stopping my heart and without cutting my chest open,” Robert says.
Dr. Beyer performed five hours of minimally invasive surgery through three incisions. Just five days after surgery, Robert went home. He was so happy Dr. Beyer was able to fix his heart without the need for open heart surgery.
“I didn’t want to go through an invasive open heart surgery,” Robert said.
“Dr. Beyer is a super doctor. He’s a godsend. God gave him a pair of hands to do this kind of stuff. Everyone at Dr. Beyer’s office, at the Heart Valve Clinic at Delray Medical Center and throughout the hospital was just awesome. The nurses were really great to me.”
Robert said his daughter is a nurse and met with Dr. Beyer. She told him Dr. Beyer answered all of her questions and texted back and forth with her throughout Robert’s treatment. After one follow-up at Dr. Beyer’s office Robert has no future appointments needed with Dr. Beyer.
“I feel great today! There is a big difference from before I had my surgery. I’m off my arrhythmia pills and I don’t have to take blood pressure medicine. I feel like I’m 40-years-old and my blood pressure is good,” Robert said.
Robert is back to mowing the grass and cutting trees down while landscaping the one and a quarter acre he owns surrounding his home.
“I’m active again which is good for the heart,” Robert said.
He’s even up and down on the ladder fixing things around the house.
“He’s back to doing his chores again,” Robert’s wife Rose said.
Chuck Nieves, a Coral Springs resident, is back out at sea thanks to heart saving care by his heart surgeon and cardiologist.
As a chief engineer with the United States Merchant Marine, I live on the ship for six months out of the year working to take care of and fix all the machinery, everything from the engines, main propulsion, hydraulics to controllers, electrical and switchboards and even the heavy lift cranes while my crew and I are out at sea. I guess you can say I like fixing things. Each tour on the ship varies from three to as much as six months at a time. But, before I step aboard, I have to pass a physical, which I have never failed in my 24-years on the job. This last time I went for my physical,
the doctor told me I failed because a very disruptive heart murmur was detected.
I had no idea my heart was in trouble. The doctor said it sounds like I might have an aortic valve problem and possibly major regurgitation. First, they sent me for a nuclear stress test and then for an echocardiogram (echo) which both came back showing that I was definitely going to need surgery. I was told that I would also need a transesophageal echo (TEE) test and an additional catheterization test to find out the extent of all my problems because I could also have aneurysms.
At that time, my brother-in-law shared some information with me on two TFPS physicians, Dr. Erik Beyer, a cardiothoracic surgeon, and Dr. Juan Velasquez, an interventional cardiologist. Both are on staff at Florida Medical Center, a campus of North Shore located in Fort Lauderdale. I looked over the information and was very impressed with Dr. Beyer’s background in mini-access surgery (minimally invasive surgery) which I was hoping to get and Dr. Velasquez’s experience in cardiovascular medicine. Due to so many of the issues with my heart I did not qualify for the mini-access surgery.
Dr. Velasquez conducted the TEE test on me. He did an arterial scope and then a vein inspection through my groin. I’m glad I chose the team quickly because the day of the test, I started breathing heavily and even started feeling a little bit of pain. Dr. Velasquez noticed my symptoms and sent me straight to the emergency room.
Dr. Beyer and Dr. Velasquez explained everything to us in layman’s terms. They took the time to explain what was happening to my wife, who has a medical background, and I, in a way we could understand. My wife, Wanda, said they were very thorough and didn’t miss a thing. Before the surgery, Dr. Beyer and Dr. Velasquez took the time to show me some of the new facilities for cardiology at Florida Medical Center.
Dr. Beyer did the best thing for me which was open-heart surgery. It was a complex surgery. I underwent surgery for an aortic root replacement, aortic valve replacement, mitral valve repair and a patent foramen ovale (PFO) via a catheter based procedure. After the surgery, Dr. Beyer seemed very confident about his assessment. He’s really a great physician and he’s always positive. Dr. Velasquez came to see me every morning I was in the hospital. Wanda said they were always positive, made sure they were giving me the best treatment, discussed medications I would need to be taking and informed her of the best route I needed to take for a healthy recovery. Being positive and informative, I think are the very most important aspects in recovery.
My wife was impressed with how good my incision looks today. She says it is a perfect straight line and even my new primary care doctor said that incision was done really nicely, which is a nice compliment to Dr. Beyer from another physician. I left the hospital exactly one week after having open-heart surgery and had no major complications. I am looking forward to the future of getting back to the boat and seafaring for a few more years.
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