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Local man reunites with health care team who saved his life

Mercy hospital reunion
Posted at 4:34 PM, May 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-05 18:01:13-04

A Sunman, Indiana man who nearly died was able to reunite with the team responsible for saving his life.

In October, 50-year-old Rob Dunbar went to his primary care physician for flu-like symptoms. His doctor diagnosed him with pneumonia and sent him home with medication.

A week later, Dunbar returned to his doctor and an EKG found problems with his heart. When he got to Mercy Health, he learned it was congestive heart failure.

"I had no idea that I had all this going on inside here," he said. "I thought I was getting better, because I had been working out for a couple of years and eating a lot better. Yeah, I thought everything was going in the right direction."

Doctors put an intra-aortic balloon pump inside Dunbar, but just a few hours later it was clear that wouldn't be enough.

"We realized quickly that the squeezing function was very, very poor," said Dr. Manisha Patel, the director for cardio thoracic surgery at Mercy West Hospital. "The heart was weak."

The team then installed another type of heart pump to keep the organ beating until surgery. Four days later, Patel performed a quadruple bypass surgery on Dunbar.

But that wasn't enough either.

"Basically not enough progress that we wanted to see in those first 24 to 48 hours," said Patel.

Just days after the surgery, Dunbar was in cardiac shock, because his heart couldn't get enough blood or oxygen to his brain, kidneys and other organs.

Yet another kind of pump was quickly installed to give Dunbar's heart time to rest and heal. After 32 long days, he is finally in cardiac rehab.

"It's just an absolute pleasure," said Patel to Dunbar as they reunited for the first time since his procedures. "It's just a delight. It makes all the hours of work worthwhile to see you walk in as a regular person."

Dunbar said if he had chosen to go home, instead of take a trip to the hospital to be checked out, he could have been dead in just a matter of days.

"Do what you can to take care of yourself, because it could all change in a heartbeat," he said.