McHENRY – When McHenry resident Harry Burmann felt severe fatigue and shortness of breath after playing tennis recently, he had no idea he would need open heart surgery.
And after doctors informed the 72-year-old that he had significant blockages to his arteries and his heart wasn't getting a sufficient supply of blood, he definitely didn't expect he would be a part of one of the hospital's biggest milestones.
On Friday Burmann underwent Centegra Health System's 1,000th cardiac surgery. The procedure—a quadruple bypass—lasted several hours and was performed successfully. The Northwest Herald was invited to attend a portion of Friday's procedure.
“The number means something,” said Dr. Thomas Hinkamp, who performed the hospital's milestone surgery. “It means there is a lot of experience at Centegra doing open heart surgery. The community should feel proud, and comfortable, and confident being able to come here had have great surgical services and great cardiology care.
“But in terms of this individual patient, we are going to give him the best operation we can, whether he's number 999 or 1,000.”
The first open heart surgery in McHenry County was performed at Centegra Hospital-McHenry in 2006. The Cardiac surgery team performed approximately 500 open heart surgeries in its first three years, handling roughly three to four cardiac surgeries a week, according to Jamie Hursey, Centegra manager of cardiac diagnostic, invasive, and robotic services.
“It's definitely a milestone for us,” Hursey said. “It's something we've been tracking … One of the things I explain to patients is while this is probably one of the more stressful days for you and something that is unique on your calendar, it's something we do on a very regular basis here.”
To perform the surgery doctors had to completely stop Burmann's heart from beating. Hinkamp and his team needed the heart to be motionless in order to sew on the grafts and perform the bypasses. Doctors cooled Burmann's heart down to 9 degrees Fahrenheit, and his heart was stopped for 68 minutes.
After the bypasses were complete, Burmann's heart was restarted. It took about 10 minutes for the heart to build to up a normal beating rhythm.
A heart bypass is one of the most commonly performed surgeries in the United States, and the success rate for the operation is very high at Centegra, Hursey said.
“We determine success by not only that we've done 1,000 procedures, but that we've done some high quality procedures,” he said. “We look at things like our infection rates, which are extremely, extremely low. We look at the [patients] ability to be discharged and back into the community, which are also very high.
“Each patient is special, and the fact that we can impact their lives in a positive way is truly what's important to us.”