09:33 AM

American Heart Month: patient receives life-saving pacemaker

Robin and Laboyd Spradley

Ten years ago, Laboyd Spradley found out he had a heart arrhythmia, but at the time didn’t do anything about it. He was healthy and felt great, and didn’t see any reason to be alarmed. 

On December 23, 2021, Laboyd went in for a routine checkup with his primary care physician. His heart rate was 35 beats per minute, so his doctor did an EKG and it showed a total blockage. He was experiencing an abnormal heart rhythm, known as AFib, the most common type of treated heart arrhythmia. An arrhythmia is when the heart beats too slowly, too fast, or in an irregular way. It can lead to blood clots in the heart and increases the risk of stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications.

Laboyd was immediately taken by ambulance to Good Samaritan Medical Center. He was supposed to go to a different hospital but was diverted, a pleasant surprise to Laboyd’s wife, Robin, because she is the clinic manager at SCL Health Medical Group-Superior OB/GYN.

When he got to the emergency room, he had no signs or symptoms, which left the doctors perplexed. Typically, someone with that condition could have a myriad of symptoms ranging from fatigue and shortness of breath, to weakness or dizziness. Other staff members came into his room and told him they had heard his story and couldn’t believe he felt normal, given his condition.

The next day, on Christmas Eve, Laboyd and Robin had a consultation with Dr. Wojciech Nowak, Medical Director of Cardiovascular Service Line at SCL Health and Vascular Institute and Chair of the Department of Cardiovascular Services at Good Samaritan Medical Center. He told Laboyd he would need a pacemaker. 

“Dr. Nowak told us there was no way around it because if he didn’t get it, he would die,” said Robin. “We weren’t scared though. He explained the procedure in great detail. My husband and I were so impressed with his expertise and confidence that making the decision to move forward with the procedure that afternoon was a no-brainer. We consented!”

The two-hour-long procedure went great and left Laboyd with a bit more energy. He spent a total of three days at Good Samaritan, and came back a few weeks later for an echocardiogram that showed everything was going well and the surgery was a success.

“The staff was amazing,” Robin said. “I want to include the entire staff on the cardiac floor who took care of him. They were so nice and attentive and we had the best experience, from the moment we got there to discharge, from the entire care team. We feel very blessed that he was diverted to Good Samaritan.”

Laboyd echoed her sentiment saying, “The cardio team is top-notch. Everyone from the doctors to nurses to nursing assistants were incredible. Dr. Nowak is no nonsense. I was never worried because he did such an amazing job talking me through the entire procedure, before and during. The doctors and nurses kept coming in to check on me. They were on it, day and night.”

Robin said she wishes she would’ve been more involved in his health so she would’ve known he had an underlying issue. She stressed that it’s important to talk to your loved ones about their health so you understand what’s going on with them and the potential risks.

“Laboyd and I are forever grateful to Dr. Nowak for saving his life and for showing the care and compassion that he showed us,” said Robin. “It really was the best experience. We still talk about how wonderful Dr. Nowak, the nurses and the entire care team were to us. Best Christmas gift ever!”