The pain in Christopher Watts' chest wouldn't go away. For a few months, the uncomfortable, shortness of breath would linger for about 10 minutes and then subside. The 48-year-old Fort Lauderdale resident called a cardiologist and scheduled an appointment.
But Christopher couldn't wait another day. The pain in his chest had become so intense that he Googled 'symptoms of a heart attack.' That's when he knew he needed immediate medical attention.
"I know my body," Christopher said. "I knew something was wrong."
Christopher was admitted to Broward Health Medical Center with acute myocardial infarction, a life-threatening condition that occurs when blood flow to the heart muscle is abruptly cut off, causing tissue damage. With declining cardiac function, he underwent a complicated open heart surgery.
For the next few weeks, Christopher recovered in the cardiovascular intensive care unit (CVICU) where he was on an intra-aortic balloon pump, an inflatable device that helps boost blood flow for a weakened heart. He was also on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) system, an advanced life support technique for patients with life-threatening heart and/or lung problems.
Christopher eventually made a full recovery and is grateful for the compassionate, extraordinary care he received at Broward Health Medical Center.
"I experienced an unconditional love from the staff, the kind you receive from your mom," he said. "You can't train someone to give that kind of care. It's innate, it's in your DNA. I really felt protected. I couldn't ask for anything more."
Christopher continues to get stronger every day and is looking forward to getting back to the life he loves, which includes going to the gym, swimming and working as a dispatcher for the Salvation Army.
Months after being discharged, Christopher returned to the CVICU to thank the caregivers who saved his life and they were delighted to see him in good health and spirits. It was an emotional reunion.
"I remember their faces and their reactions to seeing me walking, talking and joking," he said. "I'm very grateful."
Broward Health Medical Center