When my cardiologist called and said it was important that he speak to me right away, I thought I knew what was coming. My heart function has been under surveillance for quite a while and for the past year I felt that it wasn’t quite up to the task of my active lifestyle.
How ironic, I just launched a new project for Children as The Peacemakers called Mending Little Hearts. (the photo with this is our logo) Dr. Nguyenvu Nguyen, who as an eleven year old won a Peace Prize from our foundation and later traveled the world with me, is now president of our board and a pediatric cardiologist at Chicago Hope hospital. A brilliant man and like a second son to me, he is poised to lead a medical team to Vietnam in April to “mend Little Hearts.” Responding to the needs of sick children in Vietnam as well as Africa and other places, people have been generous in supporting our work. I had hoped to be able to go to Vietnam with Nguyenvu, but now such a long trip is probably out of the question for me.
When I was eighteen I became one of the very first (#10) people in the world to have heart surgery and live. It was 1948, and way back then few people had ever heard of a heart being operated on, certainly I never had. There were only five surgeons in the world who were qualified to operate on a heart at that time. One, Dr. Brodie Stephens...whom I was to learn had caught the longest pass in football history (for UC)...practiced at UC hospital in San Francisco, where I became a patient. For over a year I was in and out of that hospital built on the precipitous Parnassus Street hill, as hundreds of tests were performed. It was a seriously scary time for me.
Dr. Stephens told me that heart surgery had come about when doctors tried unsucessfully to remove shrapnel from the beating hearts of soldiers during World War ll.
- My operation took almost eight hours. When I awoke I could only speak in a whisper due to pulled vocal cords. My recovery took a year. But I lived and wrote about the whole ordeal in Whispers From God. And some say it would have been a blessing if my voice had stayed a whisper, like God's.
But what now? In his phone call my cardiologist said that my aorta has narrowed considerably since the last evaluation, thereby significantly reducing blood flow to my body. “You need heart surgery right away,” he said. So, next week I’m scheduled for two cat scans and then...well, I’ll let you know
Causes Pat Montandon Supports
PETA, Women for Women, Amnesty International, Children as the Peacemakers, Peace to The Planet