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Heart and Vascular Institute

da Vinci
Surgical Program

da Vinci > Neal B.

Meet Neal B. from Mt. Joy, PA


Building a Life in Lancaster

I was born at Lancaster General Hospital and have lived in the area my entire life. I grew up on a farm and eventually built my own house. I have always tried to stay active and healthy knowing that both my parents had  heart disease and eventually, bypass surgery.


Taking chest pains to heart

It was one of those cold winter mornings and as I reached for the newspaper I felt a slight pain in my chest. Still, I went about my business and began the drive to York where I work. I was experiencing a little chest discomfort on the road but I continued on. I was almost at work when all of a sudden I started getting clammy and sweaty and I was thinking, ‘this is not good.’ I knew there was a hospital close by, but something told me to drive back to Lancaster General Hospital. To this day, I am so happy I made that choice.


21st century heart surgery

So there I was in the cath lab at Lancaster General and I was told that I had a blocked artery and that I would need surgery. I was pretty apprehensive at first, remembering that both my parents had undergone rigorous heart surgeries that led to huge scars and that they were on bed rest for about eight weeks. Lucky for me Dr. Cope was there. He said I was a good candidate for robotic surgery. I was not familiar with robotic surgery, but as he described the advantages, I knew this was the surgery that could change my life.


da Vinci: The art of heart surgery

Dr. Cope gave me all the facts –that da Vinci robotic surgery was minimally invasive with a 4-inch incision rather than a huge scar and that they don’t stop the heart from beating and the recovery time is days, not weeks. I obviously said ‘go for it.’


Dr. cope gave me all the hope

Dr. Cope is a terrific surgeon and an even better person. He was easy to talk to; he explained things thoroughly and his overall demeanor was very calming. There were no surprises and he just put me at ease. I thought to myself that this whole experience of having heart surgery was going to be so different from what my parents went through. I was in the hands of a talented surgeon, using the latest technology, in a hospital that is the best around. The odds were definitely in my favor.

An amazing outcome

After the surgery I stayed in the hospital for only a few days. What was amazing was the fast recovery. Each day I felt better and better. I had my follow-up appointment with Dr. Cope two weeks later and he told me that since I was doing so well I could go to work the next day. Just a few weeks earlier I had heart surgery, yes heart surgery–and now I was headed back to work. Incredible!


Appreciating the little things in life

Of course the best thing of all is being able to get back to my family and grandkids and live a full, healthy life. I’m back teaching them how to use tools; we hang out in the garden and they enjoy the swing that I made them. Maybe some day I’ll tell them that my life was saved by a robot—that will really stir their imagination. Although, I know it was the doctor and the staff behind the robot that came through for me. And, of course, I can’t fail to mention my wife for her support and inspiration along the way.


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