“I was in good hands, every step of the way.
Mary Dawson's Hinsdale home is filled with the treasures of a lifetime. Her hand-made quilts are works of art, made with love for her children and her grandchildren. Collectibles fill cabinets and shelves. Outside her charming country home, horses roam in the backyard pasture while chickens scatter throughout the yard.
Mary and her husband Wayne have traveled throughout the world. Despite a bad knee and a weakened heart, Mary was determined to climb the Great Wall of China and, with her Asian guides pushing and pulling her the last steps of the way, she succeeded. But after two serious bouts of congestive heart failure, Mary knew she still faced her greatest challenge.
"I woke up one night the week before Christmas and I could hardly breathe," she said of the most recent episode. "It felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest."
Rheumatic fever as a child had gradually weakened the mitral valve in Mary's heart. Her primary care physician sent her to BMC's Cardiovascular Center for an echocardiogram - a diagnostic test in which ultrasound is used to examine the heart. In addition, echocardiography identifies the structure, thickness and movement of each heart valve and helps to determine if the valves are normal or scarred from infection, as Mary's was by rheumatic fever. Cardiologist William Levy, M.D. saw the results and immediately contacted Mary's doctor.
"He was very concerned about the results of my tests, and very concerned about me," Mary said of Dr. Levy. "He is the kindest, most considerate doctor I've ever met."
Dr. Levy ordered more diagnostic testing for Mary, including cardiac catheterization which also took place at BMC's Catheterization Lab.
"All of the testing was done right here and everyone treated me so well," she said. "At the time, it was a scary thing to go through, but I had such confidence in everyone who was caring for me."
Ultimately, Dr. Levy determined that Mary needed valve surgery. As part of the hospital's cardiology services, Dr. Levy arranged for Mary's surgery at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, and even made arrangements to be in the operating room when her valve was repaired.