Thanks(giving) for Open-Heart Surgery Just in Time for Holidays

Lucy Tine never thought she'd need heart surgery, until she began feeling strange while doing everyday activities

Heart surgery patient Lucy Tine talks with a nurse at UConn Health.

Lucy Tine has a lot to be thankful for this holiday season. Pictured on Nov. 18 at UConn Health with medical assistant Connie Simons just one month after open-heart surgery (Tina Encarnacion / UConn Health Photo).

Lucy Tine, 74, of Wethersfield is extra thankful this Thanksgiving season.

The holiday will mark just over one month since her successful open-heart surgery at UConn John Dempsey Hospital, restoring proper blood flow to her heart from several dangerously clogged arteries.

“I am gushing with thankfulness,” says Tine. “It couldn’t be better timing. While I missed out on enjoying my favorite Halloween holiday this year, I am now all set for Thanksgiving, and even Christmas, with my family, thanks to UConn Health, my doctor, and his nurse.”

She says: “They are miracle workers. My heart feels 20 years younger!”

On Oct. 19 at UConn Health, Tine had open-heart, coronary-artery bypass grafting (CABG) performed by the new chief of cardiothoracic surgery, Dr. Chittoor Bhaskar Sai Sudhakar, and his team. A cardiac stress test and diagnostic angiogram helped reveal Tine’s severely blocked arteries, putting her at high risk of a fatal heart attack, with open-heart surgery being her best option for survival.

“I never thought this would happen to me. I have always been so healthy,” says Tine, who loves to dance. “I am a young 74, very active and athletic.”

But Tine reports she does have a strong family history of heart disease on her father’s side, with several relatives needing similar surgical procedures to replace their heart arteries.

New chief of cardiothoracic surgery for UConn Health, Dr. Chittoor Bhaskar Sai Sudhakar, operating recently at UConn John Dempsey Hospital with David van Neil, PA (UConn Health photo).

Recently, Tine first started to notice something just wasn’t the same with her body. For example, while walking upstairs to her class to pursue her third college degree, she started to feel something odd and different in both her neck and chest causing her to stop and take a break. Also, while dancing with her boyfriend, she started to suddenly feel the same odd feeling again. Then she knew she had to call her primary care doctor to follow up.

“Once I struggled with my cardiac stress test, I knew it wasn’t going to be good news,” says Tine. “I was floored when I learned I had severe blockages and needed open-heart surgery.”

But after her heart surgery and six-day stay at UConn John Dempsey Hospital, she is a very grateful patient.

“I am a very happy camper. I have had a great recovery – and I had no pain—even with open-heart surgery cracking open my chest.”

She adds: “Now my surgery and my recovery is over and done with – and I feel wonderful! I now have a lot of plans to look forward to this holiday season.

“Dr. Sai Sudhakar saved my life by repairing my heart,” says Tine. “If he didn’t repair my heart I probably would have had a deadly heart attack and not be here for Thanksgiving.”

She adds: “He’s an excellent doctor. God gave Dr. Sai Sudhakar the hands to work on my heart. I would recommend him to the world. On a scale of 1 to 10 I give UConn Health a 10. Plus, his APRN Dorota Pawlak is the best.”

Her message to others this holiday season is, even if you think you are totally healthy, always listen to your body.

“If anyone thinks they may be having an issue with their body or especially their heart please make sure you go to see you doctor,” says Tine. “I thank Dr. Sai Sudhakar and God for my new and improved heart.”

Tine adds, “I am so happy to be here for the holidays but this Thanksgiving I am not cooking. We are going out to eat!”