Mary and John Ross

Ed and Linda Barwick

The first time Mary Ross heard about Queen of the Valley Medical Center was in a handwritten note. It read: “Mary, an ax fell on my head, and I’ve gone to the hospital.”

The note was from the man she was dating — her now husband of more than 25 years, John. Mary had just arrived in town to visit him, and didn’t know where the hospital was. As she made calls to nd out, gruesome scenes ran through her mind. “I pictured something out of a horror movie,” she said.

Moments later, John breezed through the door, sporting only “a little Band-Aid on his head,” Mary said. Fortunately, it was the handle of the ax, not the blade, that had struck him. “It fell o where I had it hanging on the wall and got me right in the middle of my forehead,” John, 77, explained.

It wouldn’t be the last time the Queen would play a part in their relationship. “We’re sort of regulars,” Mary, 67, joked. “My husband likes to work with his hands. Every time he cuts himself a little too deep, he’s gone to the Queen.”

For decades, the couple has entrusted the Queen with their medical concerns large and small. Then, in 2016, remarkable circumstances brought both Mary and John to the hospital as patients within two weeks of each other. In March 2016, John started experiencing dizziness. His cardiologist, Sergio Manubens, MD, with St. Joseph Health Medical Group, identi ed an irregular heart rhythm and prescribed medications that helped for a time. Then in May, things got more serious.

“He just dropped to the floor one day,” Mary said. She called 911, and paramedics brought John to the Queen — just 5 minutes from their house — where hospital sta stabilized his heart rhythm. He returned home that night, but fainted again a few days later. That’s when Dr. Manubens recommended surgery to replace his aortic valve. It didn’t come as a surprise to John; Dr. Manubens had been monitoring the narrowing valve for months and had predicted John might need the surgery soon. “Six months go by, and bingo — it was right on the money,” John said.

Cardiovascular surgeon Robert Klingman, MD, performed the aortic valve replacement on May 12. John’s natural aortic valve, an aortic valve from a pig sewn into a metal ring. “They behave more like your own valves, and they don't require long-term blood thinners,” Dr. Manubens explained.
The surgery went well, and after eight days in the hospital, John returned home to complete his recovery.
Little did they know, however, it was just the beginning of John and Mary’s adventure.

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