"Sharing More Than Love"

Patient: Delbert and Yvonne Edwards

Delbert and Yvonne Edwards were both unknowingly living with a defect in their hearts, known as "atrial septal communication" or "patent foramen ovale." This defect stems from an opening normally present during development in the womb. The opening allows blood from the mother to supply the developing child with oxygen and nutrients. This opening/hole typically closes after the child's birth. About 20 percent of people have some residual connection or defect between the top chambers of the heart. Most have no symptoms. In these cases, however, the hole served as a path for blood clots to travel to the brain. When this occurs, the person will experience a stroke.

How It All Began

"I love to fish; I like it so much that I even have a shop where I make my own lures," Mr. Edwards explained. "One day, while I was out fishing I had a stroke. I was unaware of what was happening, but luckily I had my cell phone."

One of Delbert Edwards' friends, who was also out fishing on the lake that day, called to invite Mr. Edwards to meet for a cup of coffee. When Mr. Edwards answered the phone, his friend knew immediately that something was wrong. He rushed Mr. Edwards to a local emergency room.

"At the ER they figured out pretty quickly that the symptoms were from a stroke," Edwards said. After Mr. Edwards was released from the hospital, he followed up with his family doctor, who studied his case more closely.

What the family physician found was a defect in Mr. Edwards' heart. He knew just where to send Mr. Edwards and who could treat him once he got there.

The Turning Point

William H. Crowder, M.D., interventional cardiologist at St. Dominic Hospital, is known for his skill and for performing a procedure using a device to seal the defect. Crowder performs the closure through a minimally invasive procedure.

"This procedure used to be done through a much more serious open heart procedure," Crowder explained. "Now, we can use a small catheter to place a device in the heart to close the hole, and in many cases the patient is home the very next day."

About one year later, Mrs. Yvonne Edwards, Delbert's wife, began to experience the same symptoms. She teases her husband by saying that she caught the illness from him.

"There is an occurrence in about 20 percent of people where the communication between chambers does not close after birth," Crowder said. "It is extremely rare to see a husband and a wife born with the same congenital heart defect, but we treated her and had her home the very next day too."

Recovery and Life After

Mr. and Mrs. Edwards are still enjoying life and one another. Both are amazed with the ease of the treatment and the unforgettable patient care they received at St. Dominic's. They adamantly express their love for both St. Dominic's and Dr. Crowder every chance they get.