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Temple Heart Surgeon Keeps a Navy ROTC Student's Dream Alive
Ever since Jim Vika was a small boy, he's dreamed of serving in the U.S. military. Today, the 22-year-old college student's dream is still alive – thanks to T. Sloane Guy, MD, MBA, Chief of Robotic Surgery at Temple University Hospital.
Last spring, when Vika was finishing up his junior year at Drexel University, he went for a physical exam – something required as part of his ongoing participation in the campus's Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program. Surprisingly, the exam uncovered that he had a large hole in his heart – which, if left untreated, would lead to heart failure. It was a discovery that forced Vika to put his dreams of a military career on hold. "When the doctors told me about the abnormality, I felt like I just got punched in the face," he said.
As a budding Naval Officer, however, Vika quickly investigated all his options – which led him to Dr. Guy, an expert in robotic cardiac repair and himself a former military surgeon, having completed three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
On May 17th, Dr. Guy and his surgical team successfully fixed the hole in the young man's heart – by using a tiny slice of the patient's own heart tissue to plug the hole. Using his robotic tools, Dr. Guy carefully cut and removed a small strip of the patient's pericardium, the thin sac of tissue that surrounds the heart. He then dipped that strip into a special solution to strengthen its texture and resiliency before returning the treated pericardium to the surgical site and sewing it to the heart to completely cover the hole. "The expectation is that it's a permanent repair and the patient is essentially cured of his problem," said Dr. Guy.
Within 24 hours, Jim Vika was discharged from the hospital. With his heart condition now corrected, he expects to hear shortly if he has received medical clearance to continue to pursue his dreams of a military career. Meanwhile, the economics major is running again, working a full-time job, and getting ready for his senior year at college. "I feel great!" he says.
For information or to schedule an appointment with a Temple heart surgeon, call 1-800-TEMPLE-MED (1-800-836-7536).
Date Published: Thursday, August 23, 2012
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