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Front Page » June 12, 2007 » Local News » County man receives a second chance at life
Published 3,546 days ago

County man receives a second chance at life

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Staff writer

Stan Roberts stands and displays the battery pack which powers his LVAD.

Congestive heart failure, that is what Stan Roberts was told nine years ago. With his extensive medical background, he knew what he was facing. Out of shear coincidence, the cardiologist who was telling him the diagnosis was Dr. Mackie, a physician he had worked with at the Emery Medical Center years before.

Stan was born in New Mexico, and lived in Wyoming and Colorado growing up. In 1950, when he was 17, his family happened to be living in Price. He joined the Navy and spent the next 20 years as a medical corpsman on submarines. Following his retirement from the Navy, he returned to this area and began his life outside the service.

Carolyn Hanny, nurse coordinator for the Utah Artificial Heart Program trains Lowell Morris and Christine Bardsley of the Emery Medical Center in dealing with the LVAD.

In 1971, the first physicians assistant class was started, and Stan was in it. With the medical background from the military, he did very well in the class. He went on to work as a PA, not only in Emery County, but on the Alaskan Pipeline for a year as well.

When he returned to Emery County in 1974, he worked as a PA with Dr. Mackie and many others at the Emery Medical Center until 1977. He then became a hunting guide, and he especially loved to build custom rifles. He made custom guns for a great number of people in this area.

In 1998, when his heart problems began, he had to cut back doing the things he loved. Dr. Mackie did everything to try and keep Stan going. Along the way, Stan had quintuple bypass surgery, and then a pacemaker/defibrillator installed inside his chest. Stan also suffered seven heart attacks during this period.

The process of congestive heart failure means the heart will begin to deteriorate over time, and Stan began to feel the effects. Those symptoms are no appetite, no energy, swelling of the legs, and sleeping all the time. Dr. Mackie directed Stan to the Utah Artificial Heart Program and Dr. James Long.

Stan was past the age of eligibility for a heart transplant, and was informed of a new procedure for heart patients over the age of 65 when transplantation is not an option. The left ventricular assist device (LVAD) is an electric heart assist device designed to pump blood to the body in patients with a failing left ventricle. The LVAD is approved by the FDA for use as temporary support in patients waiting for heart transplantation as well as for patients who are not eligible for cardiac transplantation.

Peggy Clark and Genevieve Lake, from Emery Medical Center, get hands on training for the LVAD.

LVAD is a pump which is installed in the abdomen to assist the heart in its operation. The electrical power supply is maintained outside the body with batteries or hook-up to the power base. Stan is the first Emery County resident to get LVAD installed.

"If I could tell everyone in Emery County one thing I would tell them that if they are in congestive heart failure, call me at 384-2825 and I will answer any questions. This program is great, it gave me a new life. I will see that they get referred to the program," said Stan.

As it happens, Stan is not only the first person in Emery County to get LVAD, he is the 200th patient to receive LVAD at the Utah Artificial Heart Program. Stan is one of three dozen patients in 10 states living everyday with LVAD. He came home from the hospital on June 4 and says he is getting stronger everyday and is thankful to have his life back.

Dona Ralphs-Roberts, Stan's wife, said, "Without this, I would be a widow. People need to know that this is available. It not only adds to one's life, but it adds quality to that life." She said the system comes with the power base to use during the time at home and when sleeping. It also has six sets of batteries to allow Stan to do the things he wishes to do outside the home.

Carolyn Hanny, a registered nurse and Stan's nurse coordinator, accompanied Roberts home from the hospital. Hanny spent several days in the area training emergency responders how to handle any situation that may arise with Stan. Hanny trained the Ferron fire department and EMTs, the staff at Emery Medical Center, the Castleview Hospital emergency room staff, and the Carbon ambulance service. For more information about the program call Stan at 384-2825 or log on to

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