Patient Success Stories

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Nearly half of all Americans have some form of heart disease. If you or someone you love is one of them, Silver Cross Hospital can mend your broken heart.

From prevention programs to open heart surgery and aftercare, we’ve brought together the latest technology and the finest heart specialists anywhere…in one convenient location. We have everything your heart needs, right here, right now.

Lemont Man Has Lifesaving Heart Surgery at Silver Cross Just days after Vacation Heart Attack in Dominican Republic

Ross Lillwitz was enjoying a pleasant family vacation in Punta Cana this summer, Dominican Republic, when things took an unexpected and frightening turn.

He started experiencing severe back pain and indigestion. Concerned about the way he was feeling, Ross went to see a doctor in Punta Cana, who delivered the shocking news he’d had a heart attack. He was hospitalized for the next two and half days before he was stable enough to return home to Lemont.

“When we met with Dr. Sankari, he first scheduled an electrocardiogram and then an echocardiogram. After the tests were reviewed, I had an angiogram,” Lillwitz said.

Dr. Abdul Sankari said the tests showed Lillwitz’s arteries were blocked between 80 and 90 percent.

“After the angiogram, it was clear that he had multiple blocked arteries, which affected the function of his heart muscle,” Dr. Sankari said. “The best way to fix it would be to undergo coronary artery bypass surgery.”

Thankfully, Silver Cross had recently started its open heart surgery program, so Ross could stay exactly where he was without having to be transferred to another hospital. Dr. Pat Pappas, thoracic and cardiac surgeon, performed the quadruple bypass surgery two days later.

“After meeting them, I knew things would be just fine,” Ross said. “I got the best of care from the time I was admitted until the time I was discharged.”

He complimented his entire heart care team.

“There are three very special people that cared for me during the most difficult times: my nurse Jen in ICU, nurse Misty who cared for me once out of the ICU, and Dr. Pappas’ nurse practitioner, Peyton. There is no doubt in my mind that these three care givers are living the mission they were born to live,” he said.   

Nine days after being admitted to Silver Cross, the grateful family man was back in the comfort of his own home. He’s currently in cardiac rehabilitation at Silver Cross three days a week.

“Now that I’m in cardiac rehab three days a week, I’m making great progress and feeling stronger every day,” he said. “The physical therapists and nurses are motivating and always have a watchful eye on me. I like to push myself a little too hard at times. The educational classes once a week are also very helpful.”

He’s also forever grateful to Dr. Sankari and Dr. Pappas, who were instrumental in his recovery and new lease on life.

“The best way I can show my appreciation and respect for these great men is to pay it forward,” he added. “They gave me an opportunity to not only get well, but to be better.”

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Physicians on Silver Cross Hospital’s Medical Staff have expertise in their areas of practice to meet the needs of patients seeking their care. These physicians are independent practitioners on the Medical Staff and are not the agents or employees of Silver Cross Hospital. They treat patients based upon their independent medical judgment and they bill patients separately for their services.