What is open heart surgery? According to Medline Plus, open heart surgery “is any surgery where the chest is opened and surgery is done on the heart muscle, valves, arteries, or other parts of the heart (such as the aorta). The term ‘open’ means that the chest is ‘cut’ open.”
Medline goes on to explain that nowadays, because of the advancement in medical technology, the term “open heart surgery” has become confusing as “new procedures are being done on the heart through smaller cuts”.
Anyhoo, here’s a list of famous people (and relatives of famous people) who are mentioned in news reports to have undergone open heart surgery.
Barbara Walters. This television icon had an open heart surgery in 2010. In a piece for Vanity Fair Magazine, she wrote about her experience thus:
“My operation was called open-heart surgery, which sounds very frightening. More than half a million open-heart surgeries are performed every year in this country, but the very description seems so terrifying that many people, afraid that they might have to undergo it, avoid even having an annual checkup.
“My surgery was to replace my aortic valve, one of the four valves of the heart, which was getting increasingly narrow. That meant that blood was having a hard time getting out of the heart—not a good thing. If you happen to like scary films, here’s the ghoulish part. Your heart is located in the center of your chest, and the surgeon saws through your breastbone to reach it, using a sort of crowbar to spread the chest open. For a short period of time, he actually holds your heart in his hand, though it is still attached to your body. (My heart was stopped for 30 minutes, and for more than an hour I was on a heart-lung machine, which takes over the pumping action of your heart.) Then the doctor replaces the aortic valve with one from a pig or a cow. In my case, it came from a cow. (I was happy when I learned that. A pig valve wouldn’t be kosher.) Now the blood can flow easily again, and you are as good as new—maybe even better.”
Regis Philbin. Regis, who is as much as a TV icon as Barbara Walters above, had a successful triple bypass surgery in March 2007. Before he went under the knife, here’s what he had to say about his surgery:
“Darn it, I don’t want to do it. Nobody wants to do it, I guess. But they tell me. And I had a second opinion, I did all those things [tests for heart disease], and so they [the doctors] are all in agreement that it should be the bypass. And so that’s what I’m going to do.”
Star Jones. Star is a lawyer and Barbara’s former co-host on The View. She underwent an open heart surgery in 2010. She went on to compete on Celebrity Apprentice and picked the American Heart Association as her charity to which her “winnings” will be donated. Here’s Star on her heart surgery and joining The Apprentice:
“I had open heart surgery last March. It will be exactly one year when Celebrity Apprentice airs. I ended up having pretty extensive surgery and being me, the lawyer, I had to absorb ever bit of information I could and I started to learn about the American Heart Association and heart disease in general. I don’t know how many people really do understand the fact that 82 million people in the United States suffer from some form of cardiovascular disease and it’s the number one killer of all Americans, it’s the number one killer of women, it’s the number one killer of African Americans. Needless to say, when I had to choose an organization that I wanted to benefit from my work on Celebrity Apprentice, I wanted to choose something that was personal and that I thought would have a longstanding impact. The American Heart Association was perfect.”