Even at 94: Modified coronary bypass surgery

Asked for the secret of his longevity, Ganot says: “My wife, the queen of our home, who always took care of me."

Patient Shimon Ganot 370 (photo credit: Kaplan Medical Center)
Patient Shimon Ganot 370
(photo credit: Kaplan Medical Center)
It may never be too late to undergo a (modified) coronary heart bypass: A 94-year-old man – one of the oldest Israelis to undergo surgery so far – has successfully had diseased arteries in his heart replaced at Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot.
Dr. Ron Brauner, head of cardiothoracic surgery at the hospital, said on Monday that conventional bypass surgery poses serious risk to nonagenarians, thus an amended technique was used to avoid putting the patient under general anesthesia and attaching him to a respiratory.
Shimon Ganot, who was born in 1918, fought in the pre-state Palmah and was an IDF infantry officer in four wars. Now, the farmer and father of three lives with his family at Moshav Arugot near Kiryat Malachi.
Brauner, a veteran cardiac surgeon, said his patient has lived independently and been mentally sharp. But two weeks ago he arrived at Kaplan’s emergency room suffering from chest pains and shortness of breath. Doctors quickly realized his life was in danger. The diagnosis: cardiac infarction.
Ganot underwent a diagnostic catheterization, which disclosed that several coronary arteries were completely blocked, reducing the blood supply to his heart muscle to a few internal vessels that had naturally created themselves from existing vessels by angiogenesis over the years.
He urgently needed bypass surgery, but that could have caused serious complications in the brain, kidneys and respiratory system.
The modified operation was performed by Kaplan surgeons without using a heart/lung machine that takes over for the pumping of the heart. Instead, a different device was used that significantly shortened the procedure.
When it was over, the anesthesiologists woke the patient up to wean him from the ventilator even before he was transferred to the intensive care unit.
Ganot awakened from the surgery without any pain, and the breathing tube was removed while he lay on the operating table. The next day, he stood on his feet and gradually regained the functioning he enjoyed before.
Ganot, who has cared for fruit orchards for many years, had been complaining recently of shortness of breath. Now, after the surgery, his respiration is much better. He hopes soon to be discharged home.
Asked for the secret of his longevity, Ganot said: “My wife, the queen of our home, who always took care of me. I did everything she said.”
Brauner said that with the ageing of the population, heart disease appears at later ages, but even people over 80 can be helped. The amount of cardiothoracic surgery in this age group has tripled in recent years.
“Proper choice and treatment of suitable patients can make it possible to perform surgery even in patients over 90 like Ganot,” he said.