First Open Heart Surgery Patient at Baptist Returns for Celebration

Friday, July 18, 2014

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On Monday, July 19, 1971, at just 17 years of age, Eddie Farris (pictured left) came to Baptist Medical Center to have open heart surgery. It was the first time open heart surgery had been performed in a private hospital in Mississippi. Farris suffered from a defective heart valve.  After undergoing heart surgery by Cardiovascular Surgeon Tom Kilgore, MD, he went home eight days later.

This year marks the 43rd anniversary of that surgery. On Thursday, July 17, 2014, Farris reunited with Dr. Kilgore plus the other physicians, Cardiologist Dave Dear, MD and Thoracic Surgeon Buddy Griffin, MD, for a celebration of life and the advancements in heart valve surgery. The event also included other patients, physicians and Baptist cardiovascular staff. (Photographs from the event are show below.)

Farris said that through the years, he has had no issues with his heart valve. And, after that surgery in 1971, he has lived a normal life for the most part. He resides in Texas with his wife, and they have two children. Here are photos from the event.

Baptist estimates that more than 34,000 people in the Hinds, Madison and Rankin counties are at high risk for vascular disease. The celebration demonstrates that Mississippians do not have to leave the state to get advanced medical and surgical treatments for vascular diseases. Baptist Medical Center continues to be on the cutting-edge of cardiovascular services, offering a program nationally recognized for clinical quality of care within top-notch facilities. This is a celebration of life as Baptist brings together physicians, clinicians and patients to showcase teamwork and efforts to stay on the cutting edge of technology in vascular surgery.

Here are some of the milestones Baptist has achieved in cardiovascular surgery:



In the 1968, Baptist provided care for 410 cardiac patients primarily in its 11-bed Intensive Care Unit. The Board of Trustees of Mississippi Baptist Hospital approved construction of a six-bed coronary care unit in 1969. Dr. Kilgore was a member of the coronary care committee which determined the space, staffing and equipment needed for the success the new unit. The Unit opened on June 15, 1969.  Dr. Dear started Baptist’s first Cath Lab.

On July 19, 1971, just two years later, the state’s first open heart surgery in a private hospital was performed on Farris.

By January 1974, cardiovascular surgeons at Baptist recorded the 1000th patient to have open-heart surgery since the first in July 1971.  During this time period and for several years after, Baptist held annual cardiovascular seminars with numerous renowned speakers such as Denton Cooley, MD, from the Texas Heart Institute, and Michael DeBakey, MD, from Baylor College of Medicine.  Dr. Kilgore was a member of the planning committees for these seminars as well as a speaker. The goal of each seminar was to continuously improve the quality of cardiovascular surgery done at Baptist.

Medical Staff services records indicate Dr. Kilgore began serving as chief of Cardiovascular Surgery in 1982 and continued in that role until 1987. After a two year break, he served in that roll the entire decade of the 1990s.  (1990-1999)

After a successful and active career in cardiovascular surgery over 38 years, Dr. Kilgore retired from the practice of surgery. But his devotion to the practice of medicine did not end. Today, he leads Baptist Outpatient Cardiac Rehab Services serving as medical director since 2006.

A day after undergoing one of the nation’s first and the Jackson area’s first aortic heart valve replacement with the new Edwards Sapien valve, Bill Toole of Byram, Miss. was discharged from Baptist Medical Center. Two weeks after surgery Toole said, “I’ve had no real pain.  My daughter lives behind me on a hilly road, and I walked to her house for the first time in a long time.” In July 2012, Baptist began providing the transcatheter aortic heart valve replacement (TAVR) technology for the treatment of aortic stenosis in selected patients.  It is designed to replace a patient’s diseased aortic valve without open-heart surgery.  Using the state-of-the-art Hybrid Operating Room, Baptist pairs interventional cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons in using this latest technology for these patients. Click here for more information.

Baptist Cardiovascular Surgeon William Harris, MD performed Mississippi’s first endoscopic robotic mitral valve repair surgery at Baptist Medical Center in Jackson, Miss. The first patient elected to have the surgery performed using the da Vinci robot on June 5, 2014. Unlike traditional open-heart surgery requiring a 10 to 12 inch incision in the chest, robotic endoscopic mitral valve repair only requires five pencil size holes made between the ribs on the right side of the chest to provide access to the heart. Robotic tools allow a magnified, three-dimensional view of the mitral valve and other structures, while dramatically limiting the physical impact to the patient. This results in less pain, faster recovery and fewer post-operative complications for patients. Click here for more information.

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