Doctor shares experience after suffering stroke on vacation, credits new procedure

Published: Oct. 6, 2023 at 3:49 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Doctors treat patients every day. But what happens when a doctor becomes a patient?

That’s what happened to one Savannah surgeon who’s shedding light on a procedure he credits with saving his life.

For Dr. Dorsey Flanders, a trip to the Bahamas ended with him on the operating table. Now, he’s sharing his story hoping to motivate others to have their hearts checked early.

A tropical getaway turned into trouble in paradise for Flanders when he suddenly became unwell.

“I tried to stand up and just fell out. I was paralyzed on the left side, couldn’t speak. My son got me into the EMS which was great,” Dr. Flanders said.

Dr. Flanders had a stroke. A result of an irregular heartbeat condition known as AFib.

Flanders said he ignored some of the common symptoms like dizziness and fatigue until it was too late.

He was flown to Memorial Health and underwent a Convergent Hybrid Ablation. A procedure used to treat AFib.

“We don’t just fix the electrical misfires that cause AFib on the inside of the heart, we also go on the outside of the heart to help get to areas of the heart that could be causing AFib,” Cardiac Electrophysiologist David Newton said.

Dr. Newton was part of the team that treated the 78-year-old. He says the procedure is a relatively new option for those who suffer from an irregular heartbeat.

“Patients who are even stuck in AFib all the time, or even had AFib for years, now have a treatment strategy that works with a very high success rate, whereas traditional treatment strategies would only have 50% success,” Dr. Newton said.

According to Memorial Health, over 12 million people are expected to have AFib by 2030.

By sharing his story, Dr. Flanders hopes people won’t ignore small symptoms before they turn into big problems.

“You can’t ignore the AFib, because at some point in time, even if you’re on blood thinners, you’re gonna get caught some time where you forgot to take it or you didn’t take enough of it,” he said.

Memorial Health doctors say that if you think you’re experiencing symptoms of an irregular heartbeat, check with your primary care doctor to get your heart checked regularly.