As a silver-medal-winning Olympic hurdler, Edward “Fast Eddie” Southern was used to overcoming obstacles. But when lung disease and a poorly functioning heart caught up with him, the octogenarian found himself experiencing chest pains and gasping for air.
The team at Methodist Richardson Heart & Lung discovered Southern’s chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) had progressed, and that he’d endured a small stroke, suffered a minor heart attack, and had blockages in his coronary and peripheral arteries. The former Olympian’s heart was functioning at 25% and restricted blood flow compounded by lung disease, was starving his heart of oxygen. He was in dire shape.
A Grim Prognosis
Methodist Richardson cardiothoracic surgeon Derek Williams, MD, working alongside interventional cardiologist Peter Frenkel, MD, pondered how to get more blood flowing through Southern’s heart and body. “He was unlikely to survive a coronary bypass or surgery to implant a stent,” Dr. Williams said. “We decided our best bet was to use a mechanical heart pump called an Impella 5.0 to support his heart while stents were placed to relieve obstructions in his coronary arteries.”
A Heroic Effort
The Methodist Richardson heart team routinely uses a smaller heart pump for this procedure. “But his heart needed more support because of his blocked arteries,” Dr. Williams said. “The Impella 5.0 is a large pump that can assist the heart and relieve strain during the stenting procedure. It was a high-risk procedure, but it was his best option.”
The precarious procedure was a first for Methodist Richardson. “A community hospital like ours usually sends patients to a specialty center for such a procedure,” Dr. Williams says. “But Methodist Richardson Medical Center is able to offer this to our patients because of the caliber of our heart team.”
A Grateful Patient
The procedure was a success, and a smiling Southern declared the care he received at Methodist Richardson Medical Center nothing short of excellent. “The real difference at Methodist Richardson is the collaborative approach,” Dr. Williams said. “Care is very personal and individualized here and having specialists in all types of medical fields working together on patient care means better outcomes for the patients. Being a smaller, community hospital we look at our patients as our neighbors, not just outcome statistics. Methodist Richardson has grown as the community has grown, adding the latest technology, not just in the cardiac department but throughout the hospital, so we can offer big-city technology with down-home care.”
Growing with Richardson
Methodist Richardson Medical Center was the first health care facility to receive the Texas Award for Performance Excellence and one of the few hospitals nationwide to receive the prestigious Magnet recognition. With a recently added fifth and sixth floor, they will soon offer over 300 patient rooms, each one a private room. The heart and lung department offers a full range of open and minimally invasive procedures including coronary artery grafting and transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). “We’ve performed over 100 TAVR procedures with some of the best outcomes in the country,” Dr. Williams said. “We routinely perform procedures through the smallest incision possible and are very hands-on with recovery, preferring to remain involved postoperatively through discharge and beyond.”
Meet Dr. Williams
Dr. Derek Williams is fellowship trained in general and minimally invasive cardiovascular and thoracic surgery. He obtained his medical degree from Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine and completed his residency in general surgery and his fellowship in cardiothoracic surgery at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Dr. Williams is board certified by the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Thoracic Surgery.
After school, he moved to Florida where he worked for a large heart and lung group gaining invaluable experience in all sorts of conditions and treatments. His clinical interests include coronary revascularization, valvular heart disease, minimally invasive cardiothoracic surgery, transcatheter aortic valve replacement, and robot-assisted thoracic surgery.
Dr. Williams is an experienced lecturer and presenter and has contributed numerous articles to medical journals. In his free time, he enjoys golfing, triathlons, and spending time with his wife, a fellow physician, and their five-year-old twins.
“Moving to Dallas was moving home for us,” he said. “The team at Methodist Richardson really welcomed me. We’re a close-knit family here and our patients benefit from the camaraderie and respect among the doctors. It really is a team effort.”
2821 East President George Bush Freeway, Suite 404
Richardson, Texas 75082