Bob's Blogs

Bob’s Heart Surgery

April 26, 2013 • Fenny Peiffer

It’s not often in one’s life that we experience something so extraordinary that it becomes unprecedented. Maybe even world-class . . . certainly . . . once-in-a-lifetime.
We all have once-in-a-lifetime experiences—right? Our birth and death for starters. But even though they’re once-in-a-lifetime to ourselves, these are common to everybody.

What makes me so special? Not much—other than having the dubious distinction of surviving not just one open heart surgery—but four.

My name is Bob and I’m not fat, I never smoked and I always got plenty of exercise—yet, in a span of three decades I underwent four separate open heart surgeries. Unprecedented? They were to me.

My family immigrated to the US from Holland when I was 5 years old. After a fairly normal childhood I went on the road as a professional musician in 1974. A few years later I was ready for a career change and started to pursue aviation-as in airline captain!!!! It was at that time that I was diagnosed with congenital aortic stenosis-at 22 years of age I . . . had . . . heart disease.

My airline career was grounded-permanently.

In 1994, after 15 years of living an “adjusted life” -reducing my sports, being careful with diet and such it was finally time to intervene. My breathing had become compromised and my heart was becoming too enlarged. Because of my age (37) I opted, after careful consideration, for the Ross Procedure as a solution to my valve replacement.

The long and short of it is that 6 months later I would need to have my donor pulmonary valve replaced. What happened? No one would or could tell me. 18 months later, YES-once again the pulmonary valve went bad.

This 3rd surgery was performed by Dr. Ron Elkins in Oklahoma City- and has lasted to date . . . with the exception that the original replaced aortic valve had worn out after 17 years and I had that replaced in December of 2011.


Four times.

I am now 56 and all things considered doing just fine.

With my life experiences in show biz as a musician, a college professor, a stint selling real estate and my general creative and entrepreneurial nature I have written about this amazing experience. Trust me: getting cracked open and everything that goes with it is a life-altering event.

My book, Straight From My Heart, is actually a very entertaining read about my adventure. Imagine Hugh Laurie’s House guesting on an episode of ER written by Dennis Miller with a cameo by George Carlin-without the ponytail and eff bombs!

In fact, you may download an eBook version of my story directly from the Amazon Kindle website! Here’s the link! or-if you’re old-school and prefer an actual book, it’s available here:

As we reach our “golden years” active as we might still be, our chances of perhaps needing open heart surgery increase. And my book tells a story that I think you’d enjoy-but don’t enjoy it TOO much!

My best to all and happy retirement!

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