Jose Luis Villegas' Story
TV news anchor/producer receives life-saving surgery for ascending aorta aneurysm rupture and tear.
I was at my home in Boca Raton getting ready to go to sleep because I had work the following day. I took a vitamin with some water and it felt like it was stuck. All of a sudden, I had a very intense pain in my back. I started to pace back and forth and called my girlfriend, Ivannia. I told her you have to take me to the hospital right now because I don’t think this is normal. At Delray Medical Center they did an EKG and CT scan and found I had tear in my aorta. It was a matter of life and death. I had an ascending aorta aneurysm rupture and tear. They transferred me to Florida Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale under the care of Dr. Erik Beyer, a cardiothoracic surgeon.
Dr. Beyer told Ivannia this was one of the most challenging surgeries he’s ever had because of the location of the tear - which happens to be in the root of where all the arteries connect to the coronary artery. Dr. Beyer said most tears are a few centimeters lower or higher than the root while mine was right in the curve where everything met. This was a very delicate surgery which had me and my girlfriend nervous. When Dr. Beyer spoke to me, I calmed down. He explained about the process and the dangers of aortic surgery. He took the time to explain what exactly he was going to do and I began to feel safe and secure, I wasn’t feeling scared. I felt very good.
Looking back, this condition I had may have been genetic. I never had any heart issues, my heart was always good. This problem was in my aorta. I do have high blood pressure and have a lot of stress in my line of work. The day I had the aorta tear, I had a really bad argument with someone and the stress could have aggravated this aorta tear. The surgery was almost ten hours. After the surgery, Ivannia said Dr. Beyer looked very exhausted but took the time to come out to the waiting room and explain to her and my family, in detail, everything that happened, everything I went through, the whole procedure and what to expect.
Dr. Beyer replaced my aortic valve with a porcine valve. Because this was a biotic prosthesis and not mechanical I don’t have to take blood thinners, which I think is amazing. I was only in the hospital for one week. The team was always attentive and anything I asked for they were always there for me. They never complained. I was so happy. I never had pain or any complaints. I think I had a dozen people taking care of me.
Dr. Beyer saved my life. He’s unbelievable. Dr. Beyer is like an angel. I think God sent him for me. Dr. Beyer sat with my girlfriend and my family members, which they appreciated because we do realize he could have walked out and said that I was okay and went on his way. Dr. Beyer was very calm, patient and very detail oriented. When I was in the hospital, Dr. Beyer was always there. He’s a very kind man. Dr. Beyer’s surgical assistant, James Jower, was unbelievable. He did my stiches and everything came out great. Everybody smiled at me and kept me positive. I think it was wonderful!
For follow-up appointments, Dr. Beyer’s office borders the hospital. The office is convenient, easy to get in and out of and the staff is very courteous. I can’t say enough about Dr. Beyer’s staff. Dr. Beyer’s staff and how they are fantastic!
My girlfriend and I are foodies. We love going out and trying new restaurants. My favorite food is sushi which I could eat every day. I also like Thai and Oriental food and I love red wine, my favorites are cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir. I told Dr. Beyer I love red wine and he said not only does he allow it, but he recommends having red wine. After I woke up from surgery, the first thing I wanted to do was eat. I had meatballs and it was great! My girlfriend said I never lost my appetite and wanted to walk right away. I’m very hyper and desperately wanted to get back on my feet.
I love to cook. With my new lease on life, I would love to open a small food truck with healthy food. Though, TV has always been one of my passions, I would like to produce small movies and short films, I would do it differently with local talent. It would be about the positive aspects of life. I have a news segment at the station that’s called “The Good News Segment” that is something I’d like to do – maybe make it a mini-series. We need to show positive things so people can have positive thinking. There’s too much negative in the world right now. My granddaughter Leighlani Sophia and son Jon Vincent are my main passion. I was thinking of them on the way to the operating room. Today, I feel great!