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Ken Byk

An Unexpected Journey After Crossing the Finish Line

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Ken Byk.jpgI had just crossed the finish line at Bay to Breakers, a 12 kilometer footrace that takes place in San Francisco each spring, when I suffered a massive heart attack and collapsed on the ground. Luckily for me, of the 10,000 race participants, the one that rushed to my aid was an anesthesiologist who performed CPR for 20 minutes before restoring my pulse.

I was taken by ambulance to the University of California, San Francisco, where I had a second cardiac arrest and was again resuscitated. I later learned that I had severe coronary artery disease. There were two 90% blockages in my arteries, and a third 99% blockage that had never been detected. Like many patients, I didn’t have any symptoms or risk factors and was simply a victim of genetics. Doctors performed a bypass surgery a few days after I was admitted to the hospital. The surgery went well and I was released within a week. Several years later, I still remember my room in Long Hospital – 1062, and could not imagine a more thoughtful, compassionate, attentive, professional group of caregivers.

My story is one of many here at UCSF. Their expert cardiac surgeons have been pioneers in the treatment and research for heart conditions and procedures. Their mission is threefold: to develop the next generation of leaders in surgery; to provide outstanding clinical care that is cost effective, yet compassionate; and to make significant advances in scientific knowledge and clinical practice through basic and clinical research. Patient care and experiences like mine have always been and will always be their main focus.

The Division of Adult Cardiothoracic Surgery at UCSF is a high-volume center, treating the most complex cases of heart and lung diseases for patients in the Bay Area and far beyond. Their reputation for clinical excellence and stellar outcomes extend both nationally and internationally, and have an active research program to develop new and better treatment options for the benefit of patients like myself.

I am now an advocate for CPR education and urge people to learn more about their genetic risk for heart disease. I lead an active life that includes running and skiing. I look forward to my return visit each year just to thank the faculty and staff for the care I received at UCSF. 

Tags: Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG)
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