Thrive by IU Health

February 09, 2021

Cardiovascular Patient Has a Heart for Giving Back

Cardiovascular Patient Has a Heart for Giving Back

Ron Fredrick didn’t think he was going to die. Others weren’t so optimistic. In 2018, the Rensselaer track coach thought he might be having a heart attack, and called for an ambulance. At the hospital, testing showed no signs of one, so he was sent home with pain medication, and told to follow up in two weeks. The next day, still in severe discomfort, he went to a scheduled visit with his primary care physician.

“Everything about it was just chance,” Frederick says, and at that moment, it could have gone a very different way. His doctor, agreeing with the ER’s diagnosis of chest wall pain, gave him a prescription and was about to send him on his way. But as Fredrick was leaving, the physician said, “Maybe we ought to do a CT scan.” “I was at the door,” Frederick recalls. “And I almost walked out.”

The doctor’s split-second decision was life-altering -- and life-saving -- for Fredrick. A few hours later, having had the scan, Fredrick was back home for lunch when he received the call. His aorta was dissecting, and he needed to immediately return to the hospital for emergency surgery.

The medical team in Rensselaer knew he needed urgent care that was beyond what they could provide. They gave him a choice: he could be flown to Chicago or to IU Health Methodist Hospital. As chance would have it, poor weather conditions had grounded the transport helicopter, so Fredrick, having already decided he preferred to stay closer to home, was taken to Indianapolis via ambulance.

"Since I was going to Methodist, I knew everything was going to be okay,” Fredrick said.

And it was. After a 17-hour surgery to repair his fully dissected aorta, a follow-up surgery to stem excess bleeding, and a collapsed lung, Fredrick finally turned a corner. He attributes his recovery to the care of IU Health Cardiothoracic Surgeon Joel Corvera, MD, and the ICU nurses who kept a watchful eye on him after his surgeries. “It was as if I were a king,” he says with a laugh. “There was somebody there all the time, checking on me regularly, asking if I needed anything. Everybody made me feel so good about being there.”

It didn’t take long after his recovery for Ron and his wife to decide they wanted to give back. Fredrick and his wife established an annual gift to the IU Health Foundation, that will support cardiac care for patients in similar situations. Fredrick says the decision was simple. “I can’t imagine going anywhere else and getting better care. I wanted to do whatever I could to help, to assist, to basically say thank you.”

As a teacher, Fredrick says he and his wife knew they wouldn’t be able to make a major gift, but they were inspired to do whatever they could. “If it helps in some small way,” he says, “then I’m very grateful.”

And as for those who thought he wouldn’t survive his ordeal, Fredrick understands, because without the quick thinking of his doctor, he wouldn’t have. “I am alive today because of the people at IU Health Methodist Hospital; it’s that simple. So, yes, giving is easy.”

Any gift, large or small, has an impact on our patients. If you would like to support cardiac care, please contact Ashley Strickland, senior development officer at IU Health Foundation. She can be reached by email at astrickland1@iuhealth.org or by phone at 317.264.9438.