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Looking back, Faith Gager of North Cape May could see that trouble had been brewing. It had been getting harder and harder to work out at the gym. She was tired a lot of the time. “Not enough sleep,” she figured. It wasn’t until she went for a physical exam as part of a nursing school application that she began to realize the real cause – and full extent – of her problem.
“I had known for about ten years that I had a heart murmur, but it really hadn’t caused me any problems,” she says. “When I went for the physical and was immediately referred to a cardiologist, I found out that the situation had changed pretty dramatically. I needed mitral valve surgery and was told to find a surgeon.”
Faith did her research and met with several cardiothoracic surgeons in the region to discuss this delicate procedure.
Every one of the surgeons agreed that she needed surgery, but every one declined to perform the surgery because of its complexity. “I wanted someone who would repair the valve rather than replace it. With a repair I wouldn’t have to take blood thinners for the rest of my life. I’m only 34, so that was very important to me.”
She eventually met with AtlantiCare cardiothoracic surgeon James Dralle, MD, and finally got the commitment and reassurance she was looking for. “After speaking with Dr. Dralle and his staff, I was completely comfortable with my decision to have the surgery done at AtlantCare,” recalls Faith. “Dr Dralle repaired the valve and I was back at work – feeling great – four weeks later.”
According to Faith, an added bonus was the fact that she was able to get the care she needed so close to home. “My grandparents live near the hospital, other family members are close by, and even my children’s school is down the road. To receive such incredibly good care right in my ‘comfort zone’ was phenomenal!”