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Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery

Back from Down Under

Cheryl and Rob Meguid with their children, Natalie and Cameron

It is with joy and gratitude that the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery welcomes back Dr. Rob Meguid, a member of our faculty who faced a life-threatening medical emergency while on vacation in Australia this past Christmas.

When the illness struck, Rob was on Kangaroo Island (see map below) with his wife, Cheryl Meguid, DNP, and their two children, Natalie (3 years old) and Cameron (11 months). At first, Rob thought he simply had a cold. Then he woke up coughing blood. Losing sensation in his extremities, he realized he was in shock, facing an unknown biological threat.

Map showing Kangaroo Island's position off the coast of Australia  

Cheryl rushed Rob to the local hospital on Kangaroo Island. Within an hour, he was airlifted to a larger hospital in Adelaide.

As it turned out, a Streptococcus infection had led to pneumonia, which, with terrifying suddenness, led to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and septic shock. Rob, a healthy man in his early 40s, was suddenly looking a 10% chance of survival.

The next few weeks were a roller-coaster ride of setbacks and recoveries. In addition to the dedicated Australian medical professionals caring for Rob, many people rallied to the Meguids’ aid, including family, friends, and colleagues from the CU Department of Surgery. By mid-January, Rob was finally stable enough to be transported back to the U.S. on a multi-leg medical flight. He then entered the care of our team at University of Colorado Hospital.

After an additional series of challenges, each of them ultimately surmounted, Rob was finally discharged from the hospital on February 7. Having lost 35 pounds through the course of the ordeal, he still had a great deal of recovery work ahead of him, but now he could recover at home, surrounded by family and supported by friends and colleagues.

Never one to lie down in the face of obstacles, Rob set the ambitious goal of returning to clinical practice on April 2. As he returns to work this month, we couldn’t be more grateful to have him with us.

For more details of the Meguids’ story, read Todd Neff’s article in UCHealth Today.

(April 2018)

Coloradoan receives new heart for Valentine's Day

Heart-transplant recipient Brad Keefer (right) with his wife, Stephanie Eigenberg

Brad Keefer was born with an abnormal heart valve. That didn’t stop him from becoming a husband, father, and even a young grandfather, but by his mid-40’s, he was struggling with increasingly poor health and was told he needed a heart transplant. He wrestled with feelings of guilt—"Why do I deserve it and not somebody else?"—but his family encouraged him to get on the transplant list.

This February, a donor heart became available, and Brad received a transplant at University of Colorado Hospital.

"My life just started over last week—that's the way I look at it," Keefer says. "So I'm going to do everything in my power to keep it going and honor the person that gave me this."

According to Dr. Muhammad Aftab, patients who receive heart transplants today can look forward to longer life and better health thanks to medical advances of recent years. "Currently our patients have really extraordinary life expectancy and quality of life after heart transplantation," he says. "And we are talking in terms of decades."

Watch the video on the Denver 7 ABC news site.

(February 2018)

Biomedical team works to develop living heart patch

Dr. James Jaggers

Dr. James Jaggers describes the new project to a reporter for Science Nation.

Researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus are developing exciting new technologies to help infants with congenital heart defects.

Currently, many babies born with complex heart defects will require multiple surgeries across their lifetime. Surgeons are able to implant patches to assist the babies’ heart function, but these patches have many limitations. Being made of synthetic materials, they cannot grow as a child’s heart increases in size. Also, they do not contract or conduct electrical activity as normal heart tissue does.

A new project headed by bioengineer Jeff Jacot, PhD, aims to use the infant’s own tissues, harvested in utero, to generate a biological heart patch that becomes a working part of the baby’s heart and grows right along with the child, obviating the need for further surgeries. Dr. Jacot and surgeon James Jaggers, MD, explain the concepts in this video for the National Science Foundation.

(October 2017)

More stories

For additional news stories, visit the Department of Surgery's News Archive. To see only stories from the Cardiothoracic Division, follow this link.