16:35 PM

Love and heart surgery: Husband and wife save each other

Geneva couple both undergo cardiac surgery by same Northwestern Medicine surgeon

Jeff and Aleida Vekony

GENEVA, Ill. - Just a few days before Christmas 2021, Aleida Vekony fell to her kitchen floor in Geneva, Ill.  Her husband Jeff found her unconscious and performed CPR until paramedics arrived. Aleida had suffered a massive heart attack. Little did Jeff know that action would also save his life.

Aleida was rushed to Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital where doctors discovered she had severe coronary artery disease. Her heart could no longer pump enough blood to the rest of her body. Due to the complexity of her case, she was transferred to Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital in nearby Winfield, Ill.

Gyu Gang MD cardiac surgery“Aleida’s case was dramatic. Her arteries were blocked and rock solid due to calcium and plaque. It was impossible to sew a stitch through them for bypass surgery,” said Gyu Gang, MD, chief of cardiac surgery at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital. “She required a coronary endarterectomy where you shell out the artery. Not many surgeons will attempt that during a bypass surgery.”

Not long after Aleida’s surgery on February 28, 2022, Jeff decided he should get his heart checked. Testing revealed he needed a quadruple bypass for a major blockage in his heart.   

“I saved her life with CPR, then she saved mine,” said Jeff. “With what she went through, I was motivated to make sure I was OK. I was shocked by the results of my stress test and thank goodness I had it done.”

Dr. Gang also performed Jeff’s surgery. After a couple of months of recovery, the couple completed cardiac rehabilitation together at Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital. 

While Aleida would never wish heart problems on her husband, she says it is amazing to have him by her side during cardiac rehab. 

“He motivates me because he is so driven,” said Aleida. “We are really lucky that Dr. Gang took care of us both. He saved our lives.