From Heart Surgery to Marathons!

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (KFSN) -- If running a marathon was easy, everyone would do it. The 26.2 mile race is tough for anyone, especially for Paul Sykes. He ran one just weeks after heart surgery. He was born with a bad heart valve and Paul Sykes knew someday he'd have to have it replaced.

Sykes told Ivanhoe, "I was getting a lot of pain, chest pain."

Sykes loves to run.

"One day I went home after a run and I fainted, which, uh, was the point at which I realized that surgery was not very far away," said Sykes.

Sykes chose cardiac surgeon Joseph Lamelas, MD, Chief of Cardiac Surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center. One of the reasons he chose Lamelas was because of his approach to cardiac surgeries. He specializes in minimally invasive heart surgery. Meaning, instead of cracking the patient's ribs, he makes a small cut between them, just two inches long. Then, tiny cameras navigate for him minimizing trauma to the tissue.

Lamelas told Ivanhoe, "The recovery time for traditional open heart operation is about four to six weeks; it could be as long as eight weeks. For a minimally invasive operation, the average is two to three weeks."

Just four weeks after his heart surgery, Sykes happily laced up his running shoes.

Sykes told Ivanhoe, "The first run was such a great feeling not to have the chest pains anymore."

Doctor Lamelas says with traditional surgery, Sykes may never have been able to run comfortably again.

"Some of the patients have more discomfort long term as well," said Lamelas.

For Sykes, the real proof of victory came when, just a few months later he crossed the finish line at the New York City marathon.

He said, "My first thought was just sheer satisfaction. Pride, joy."

And now on to the Miami marathon!

Minimally invasive heart surgery also means a shorter hospital stay and less risk of infection.

For more information, contact:

Joanna Palmer
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