Dana Mower says he’s lucky to be alive and credits BWH and the ABC News documentary series “Save My Life: Boston Trauma” with saving his own life last month. “I could have had a major heart attack,” Mower said. “I probably wouldn’t be here right now if I didn’t watch the program.”
On the morning of Aug. 13, Mower woke up and didn’t feel quite right. The 71-year old retired engineer, who exercises regularly and eats a heart-healthy diet, assumed he had heartburn or indigestion. He subsisted on ginger ale and chicken broth for several days and slowed down his workout regimen, hoping to alleviate his symptoms.
By Aug. 16, he was feeling much better. That evening, Mower and his wife, Gail, who live in Lynn, tuned in to an episode of “Save My Life: Boston Trauma” series, which highlighted extraordinary trauma care provided at BWH, Massachusetts General Hospital and Boston Medical Center.
This episode featured the story of Manny Couto, a man who thought he had indigestion but was actually experiencing a heart attack. The show chronicled his journey to BWH, where he received a cardiac catheterization to remove a clot and place a stent to open the blocked artery.
Mower realized his symptoms mirrored those of the man he had seen on TV.
“What struck me was that the gentleman on ‘Save My Life’ was sitting up and talking, exactly like I was,” recalled Mower. “And he thought he had indigestion, just like I did.”
The next morning, he decided to go to BWH.
Mower’s BWH care team quickly recognized that he was experiencing a heart attack and arranged for an urgent cardiac catheterization. Coincidentally, interventional cardiologist Kevin Croce, MD, PhD — the same physician who treated Couto — was on call. He and the BWH Cardiac Catheterization team, including Natalia Berry, MD, MBA, Joseph Dognazzi, RT, Robyn Weiser, CVT, and Nicole Segalini, RN, successfully performed the procedure.
During the three and a half days he was on Shapiro 8, Mower formed a special bond with his nurses and was impressed by their care: “I received phenomenal treatment at the Brigham,” said Mower. “The nurses were terrific — very caring and always concerned for me.”
His nurses included Melissa Burke, RN, Gary McNabb, RN, Kathy Mullane, RN, Patty Fitzpatrick, RN, and Nayla Zreik, RN.
He was grateful that Burke created a matrix to help him keep track of his many medications. “That project required much attention to detail, and she took the time to walk me through everything and answer all of my questions,” said Mower.
Burke, who has been at BWH for 12 years, says that the unit often sees patients like Mower, who are not aware they are in the middle of having a heart attack. “Patients frequently delay coming in, believing they have indigestion or heartburn,” she said. “Our advice is to come as soon as possible.”
Looking back, Mower wishes he had gone to the hospital sooner. He hopes his story will help others recognize the signs of heart attack and respond more quickly than he did.
“I was very fortunate to come to BWH,” he said. “Boston has the best hospitals in the world, and as far as I am concerned, the Brigham is the best of the best.”