Helen, 76, may reside in Staten Island but she embodies the indomitable spirit of her Greek hometown, Sparta. “My mother has never been sick, never takes medications, and looks like a much younger woman,” said daughter Emily admiringly. When Helen turned seventy-five last year, her primary care physician recommended an echocardiogram as part of her annual examination. To her astonishment, the echo revealed a myxoma, a rare life-threatening tumor growing on Helen’s heart. Untreated, the tumor could cause sudden death. “Shock doesn’t begin to describe my reaction,” recalled Helen. “In fact, I was sure he made a mistake.”
Friends guided Helen and her family to Maimonides Medical Center, where they met Drs. Greg Ribakove and Gregory Crooke. “Does she really need open-heart surgery?” questioned her family. The two Gregs, as Emily called them, showed them exactly where the tumor was located and why it presented a grave risk. Dr. Crooke recommended minimally invasive surgery, a less traumatic but equally effective method to remove the tumor. Helen and her family liked the idea and, even more importantly, trusted the doctors and their team.
“From the moment my mother entered the hospital, she received outstanding care,” Emily said. “She saw Dr. Crooke or Dr. Ribakove two or three times a day. Dr. Crooke even gave me his cell phone number and told me to call if I had any questions or concerns. And the ICU staff was fantastic!”
Three months later, Helen says she is “95% “back to herself". The only reminder of her surgery is a barely noticeable four inch horizontal scar.