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A high school basketball referee has to be as in shape as the players. With that in mind, imagine Carl Chianese's surprise when he experienced chest pains. A visit to his doctor revealed a need for immediate bypass surgery. Under the care of St. Francis Thoracic Surgeon, Pasquale Luciano, DO, Carl will soon be back on the basketball court.


Evelyn Perez's family had a history of cancer. She wasn't terribly surprised when the doctors discovered a lung nodule. Her surgical team at St. Francis answered all of her questions, and suggested minimally invasive robotic surgery. Evelyn appreciated less pain and a quick recovery. Evelyn reports, "I walked in here like a champ and came out feeling a lot better!"


Lisa Szczeck was not only too young for heart attacks. In addition, she ran marathons and ate healthy. When she had a pain in her chest, she thought it was heartburn... Within hours, they discovered a spontaneous dissection of her coronary artery. The team at St. Francis reacted to the situation quickly, resulting in a successful recovery.


Dan Balko was a healthy man. He ate right, exercised and made good decisions about his overall health. Unfortunately, his family had a history of heart disease. When he began to have chest pains, he and his doctors discovered four blockages in his heart. The team at St. Francis performed a life-saving quadruple bypass. Dan reports "the best care he's ever had in his life."


Vivian Andrews' family had a history of heart disease. Despite her excellent diet and daily exercise, Vivian was diagnosed with serious coronary artery issues. The staff at St. Francis, from her surgical team through the nursing and Physical Therapy staff, treated Vivian with respect and dignity. In return, Vivian kept a song in her heart, cheering all those around her.


Skiing and golfing are two of Bob Hart’s passions. But when he couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded, he was concerned. Bobs symptoms were intermittent, so he decided to make an appointment with his physician to see if something was wrong. Bobs physician scheduled a series of diagnostic tests in an attempt to help figure out exactly what was causing his shortness of breath.

As part of his testing, Bob had both a carotid artery ultrasound and pulmonary function test to evaluate his lungs. Good news! Both test results were normal. It wasn’t until Dr. Eran Zacks, a specialist in cardiovascular disease and clinical cardiac electrophysiology, scheduled Bob for a stress test that they were able to identify that Bob had an extra heartbeat that could be the cause of his shortness of breath. Walking on the treadmill enabled Dr. Zacks to actually see first-hand how and when Bob developed his shortness of breath. Not wanting to go on a lifelong medication regime or have a pacemaker implanted, Bob and Dr. Zacks decided to schedule a specialized procedure in the Electrophysiology Lab where the extra heart beat was eliminated.

This did the trick and Bob is back to working out 3 days a week and taking his much-loved skiing trips, most recently in Utah.


A busy dad and healthcare executive, Tushar was adhering to an exercise program while coaching his son’s soccer team – the typical work/ life balance. During the warm-up phase at the exercise class, he experienced some mild chest pain which subsided after a few minutes. Not thinking much of it – he ignored the pain, finished class, traveled for work and returned Memorial Day weekend to set out for a soccer tournament.

While driving to the tournament Tushar said “I could tell something was wrong. I was having pain in the right side of my back.” A few pain relievers and a nap in the back seat seemed to help the discomfort. After the tournament the family went for a celebratory dinner. Walking to the restaurant he again experienced the chest pain and difficulty breathing. He headed to an ER north of Trenton and met Dr. Edward Wingfield of Hamilton Cardiology. Dr. Wingfield informed him that he would need a cardiac cath with and most likely require a balloon angioplasty or stent. He advised Tushar that by transferring to St. Francis Medical Center, additional options would be available if needed. As it turned out, the cardiac cath confirmed that Tushar was a candidate for by-pass surgery.

It’s been several weeks since the surgery and every day Tushar feels stronger and stronger. Both Tushar and his wife have been back to the hospital for follow-up care; “It feels like home when I come here.” Tushar is looking forward to returning to coaching soccer and spending time with his three children.


While decorating SFMC's chapel for Christmas, Father Carmen experienced shortness of breath. After an examination revealed he was suffering heart failure, he was rushed to the Cath Lab, where the team determined he needed coronary artery bypass, aortic valve replacement and mitral valve repair. It was obvious that Father Carmen's heart was too weak to recover from surgery on his own. At the time of surgery, Father Carmen's doctors placed him on an Impella Temporary Ventricle Assist Device (VAD) to give his heart a chance to recover and to support his other organs. This state-of-the-art VAD technology was acquired recently, and Father Carmen was only the second patient to utilize this new machine. It helped Father Carmen recover well. "My care was phenomenal, with constant one-on-one attention," he reports. "My doctor stayed with me all night after surgery, assuring me he wouldn’t leave."

Now fully recovered, Father Carmen shares this story as he visits and prays with SFMC patients. "Hearing about this wonderful patient-centered care helps relieve some of the fears and worry others may be feeling." Since that time Father Carmen has received a pacemaker and a defibrillator and is doing great.


Dan Danko is a dad, a local business owner and community leader. When Dan experienced a tingling in his left arm, he knew right away that seeking medical attention was the right thing to do. With a history of diabetes and other complicated medical problems, Dan was aware that he was at risk for a heart-related event. During a cardiac catheterization, it was determined that Dan needed immediate surgery, specifically quintuple coronary bypass surgery!

Dan and his wife Lori were facing a daunting procedure and an important decision for their family; should they stay at St. Francis or go to a large Philadelphia hospital? After lengthy discussions with Dr. Seinfeld and Dr. Shariff, weighing their choices, they chose to stay close to home and remain at in St. Francis. The surgery was performed last August. Dan recovered quickly and with patient, family, and doctors all pleased with the outcome, he is back to his normal activities.




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