Beating Heart Surgery

FRESNO, Calif.

Sixty-five year old George Munday was planning his retirement time with family and a getaway on his boat, The Great Escape. Then a nagging cough led to a diagnosis of throat cancer and surgery to remove a tumor.

"I was perfectly wide awake watching what was going on. Then the next thing I know I had all these nurses around me," George Munday, heart patient, told Ivanhoe.

Munday suffered a heart attack in the recovery room. Three arteries were blocked, but he was in no condition for bypass surgery.

"If I had the traditional operation, there was the chance of infection," Munday recalled.

Dr. Fuad Moussa is an expert in what is known as "Beating Heart Surgery" at Sunnybrook Regional Medical Centre in Toronto. During a traditional bypass, surgeons open the chest; connect the patient to a heart and lung machine, then stop the heart. Doctors make a three inch incision in the chest and operate between the ribs.

Separate small incisions allow doctors to insert a device to immobilize the blood vessels. Then while the heart is beating, they graft together healthy arteries-bypassing the diseased areas.

"With the stabilizing tools in place, it allows us to be as precise as we would be if the heart were not moving," Fuad Moussa, M.D., Cardiac Surgeon at Sunnybrook Regional Medical Centre, explained.

Dr. Moussa says this procedure decreases stress on a patient's kidneys, lungs and brain -- and slashes recovery time -- crucial for patients who are older, or considered high risk, like Munday.

"Feel good. Feel fine. I guess I don't know what all the fuss is about is the best way to put it," Munday concluded.

Less time recovering. More time living.

Recovery time often takes months for traditional bypass patients. Dr. Moussa says with a minimally invasive procedure where the heart remains beating, recovery is reduced to a few weeks.

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marsha Hitchcock at

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