Meet Tim Newberry

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“Really Glad to be Here” Thanks to Ablation Treatments 

Tim Newberry of Plymouth, Minnesota, found out he had advanced heart disease in an unusual way.

He was sick with chills, fever, vomiting, and shortness of breath for four days. His partner, Karen Deranian, a nurse, got him to their local hospital where he then went into cardiac arrest. The staff performed CPR and external defibrillation to revive him, then conducted tests to find the cause of the arrest. They determined Tim needed double bypass surgery — but Tim was told he wasn’t a candidate because his main artery had been closed for too long. Meanwhile, he had a bad reaction to an anti-anxiety drug and caught a pneumonia that required four different antibiotics.

Tim, 61, was told there was nothing that could be done for him, and that it was time for hospice care.

“I told them, ‘I walked into this place, and I’m walking out,’” Tim recalls.

They transferred him to University of Minnesota, and in the first three hours, Tim and Karen talked to five different doctors. “Everything they said they couldn’t be done at the first hospital, they did at the U,” Karen explains.

A procedure called an ablation was performed, where a low-voltage, high-frequency electrical catheter is placed into the heart through a leg artery. The ablation’s heat targets the damaged tissue and prevents it from conducting electrical impulses—so it’s no longer the source of the arrhythmia.

Tim went on to cardiac rehabilitation where he started to walk more and rely less on supplemental oxygen. He was on the road to healing until he was hit with 11 more episodes of the tachycardia that sent his doctors scrambling to defibrillate him and set up for another ablation.

The second ablation did the trick. “I was really happy to be up and awake. Dr. Lu, Dr. Martin and Dr. Shumway — they really fix you up and put you back together,” Tim recalls.

A smoker for more than 40 years, Tim kicked the habit and has embraced his second chance. “The care at the U is exceptional. They brought me back,” he says.