Mercy Medical Center completes first open heart surgery - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Mercy Medical Center completes first open heart surgery

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Photo courtesy of Mercy Medical Center. Photo courtesy of Mercy Medical Center.

An area hospital has completed their first ever open heart surgery. 

Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids is now offering open heart surgery after getting approval from the State Health  Facilities Council last year. 

Prior to this, patients needing open heart surgery in Cedar Rapids had to go to St. Luke's or an out of town hospital. 

The first patient to receive the surgery at Mercy is John Fritz of Marion. 

Fritz says he never had major symptoms pointing him to heart problems but he noticed small things like occasionally getting dizzy or being more tired than normal after yard work. 

After some testing he was told he would need open heart surgery. 

"The family was around and stuff and kind of sad you know but I said what are you going to do, I've gotta have it," he says. 

Fritz had done most of his medical things at Mercy in the past and the hospital also took care of his wife as she completed radiation and chemo. 

He says there was no question in his mind he trusted them with the surgery. 

The hospital brought in Dr. C. C. Lee last year to kick start the open heart surgery program, it's something he had done at two other hospitals in the past. 

Dr. Lee estimates he has completed more than 4,000 surgeries in his career. 

He says developing the team takes time, over the last six months they have done several mock surgeries. 

"There's just so much what goes on, what happens in the operating room you've got to have some trust with your team," he says. 

Fritz says his recovery has been smooth. 

"Right away of course you can't do what you think you can do, you know you're just sitting there and my wife has to pretty well wait on me hand and foot but it went well," he told us. 

Since his surgery on November 1st the hospital has completed two other successful open heart surgeries.   

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