Americus Times-Recorder, Americus, Georgia

Local News

July 27, 2011

Local man recovers from heart ailment without surgery

AMERICUS — After collapsing inside his home earlier this year, Marshall Welch was diagnosed as having heart valve problems and was advised to have heart surgery; however, during a diagnostic procedure, the doctor took a look at his heart and canceled the surgery.

“I dodged the bullet,” Welch said. “They thought I had a hole in my heart. Twenty out of 30 people are born with it,” he said, explaining that he collapsed at his home and hit his head on the piano.

“We thought I had a heart attack then; I was taken to the local hospital,” he said, describing his heart had gone into atrial fibrillation, commonly know as abnormal heart rhythm.

“My heart had gone into spasms,” said Welch, adding he was underwent through test after test. Doctors sent him to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Atlanta for surgery on the valves of his heart.

“There is a doctor; his name is Dr. Doug Murphy, a specialist in the Da Vinci Machine,” he said explaining the Da Vinci is a robotic surgical system which is a less evasive, more precise approach to surgery.

“They use it also for bladder, gynecological, along with various heart procedures,” he said.

Welch said the physicians tried him on medication to remedy the problems he was having; however, the medication did not work.  

“They shocked my heart back into rhythm,” he said.

After lab work and meeting with anesthesiologists, he waited for his surgery date.

“I lost weight. I have lost over 52 pounds total. My blood pressure went down as I relaxed at home waiting for my surgery,” he said adding he and his wife were praying and he was put on many prayer lists.

“My best friend Eric Cawthorn, from Bryomville, flew down to be with me. We revisited old times. The morning of my surgery, my wife and I brought fresh peaches for Dr. Murphy,” Welch said.

According to Welch, Murphy performed the TEE Test, a trasesophageal echo test, an ultrasound that provides a close look a the heart valve and chambers.

“I swallowed the TEE and they put me to sleep,” he said explaining that he and his wife were later called into the doctor’s office and were told, “You do not need the surgery, but you are not getting your peaches back,” he said with a laugh.

Welch explained his valves had tightened back up and he was fine.

“I was so excited, I could have jumped over that building. It took that to open my eyes up,” he said, explaining he had problems with heart disease in his family and he has, since, adjusted his eating habits and is planning on exercising more often.

“I am trying to get my strength back,” he said. He hopes to continue his RN career in the future but in a less stressful environment.

Welch added he was thankful for all the prayers that went out and that he knew the minute he was told he would not need surgery, that “prayers were being answered,” he said with a smile.

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