Lifespan Cardiovascular Institute

From a Fall to a Full Life Thanks to the Lifespan Cardiovascular Institute

Rhode Island resident Allen Shapiro's story of having a major heart attack and fall at home necessitating major surgery and months of hospital care is a reminder of the importance of heart health and the critical role played by the Lifespan Cardiovascular Institute in saving lives.

His heart journey began with an unexpected fall at home as he was helping his wife put groceries away. The family quickly decided to rush him to The Miriam Hospital, just a half block away from their home. It was the first step in what would become a months-long fight for survival.

Shapiro was stabilized, then transferred to Rhode Island Hospital. A pump was placed in his heart, and he spent two weeks in the cardiac surgery intensive care unit until he was strong enough for surgery. The patient’s cardiothoracic surgeon Neel Sodha, MD, and his team performed a two-vessel coronary artery bypass and repaired the hole in his heart with a piece of pericardial tissue from a cow.

From his admission to the cardiothoracic intensive care (CTIC) unit, Shapiro’s condition was both challenging and complex, requiring high levels of expertise, patience, and care from the Lifespan Cardiovascular Institute team. His prolonged stay in the CTIC, followed by rehabilitation in a long-term acute care facility, was marked by moments of uncertainty, but also incredible tenacity by Shapiro. In addition, he had support from his doctors, nurses, and family, as well as his Rabbi.

“He was in the ICU for a total of 108 days before he was transferred to rehab,” said the patient’s daughter Marcie Ingber. “They did open heart surgery…and a double bypass. Then, he got pneumonia, he got a blood infection…and his lungs filled up. So, he had his lungs drained, his liver started to fail, but that came back. He had kidney failure at one point.”

“When a patient is in the hospital for months and months on end, often times we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, but the team persevered,” said Dr. Sodha, the director of the Lifespan Thoracic Aortic Center and the cardiothoracic intensive care unit. “Everyone worked really hard every day. In doing so, we were able to get Mr. Shapiro back home to his family, which is ultimately what he wanted to do. I can’t thank the team enough for all of their efforts.”

Allen Shapiro's remarkable journey serves as a testament to the unwavering dedication and high-quality care exemplified by the Lifespan Cardiovascular Institute.