Man Receives Aortic Root Replacement and Runs Iron Man Triathlon

George Samala was training for his second Iron Man triathlon in 2014, when he starting feeling like something was wrong.

George Samala was training for his second Iron Man triathlon in 2014, when he starting feeling like something was wrong. George, an avid athlete and physical therapist, is highly attuned with his body.

His doctor examined the married father of 3, and prescribed medication to control his elevated blood pressure. George continued training for the Iron Man, but still felt off. Two months later, he made it to the competition, but ten minutes into the race, he started feeling short of breath and stopped. This was the first time he quit a race. At that moment, his wife knew something was terribly wrong.

George was referred to a local cardiologist where he was diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm, a weakening of the artery wall causing aortic swelling. Swelling can lead to rupture and can be fatal. While researching aortic surgeons, George came across Dr. Allen Stewart’s profile and read about Dr. Stewart’s work with other patients who were fellow athletes and about how he even ran and trained with them after their procedures. He knew immediately that Dr. Stewart was the surgeon for him.

Dr. Stewart performed a minimally invasive procedure on George on so he could get back to fitness, work and his family as soon as possible. Dr. Stewart performed a valve sparing aortic root replacement through a small keyhole incision in his sternum to speed up his recovery time.

Eight months after surgery, George ran and completed another race. Today, he’s training for another Iron Man.

Every November 17th George and his wife celebrate the date he had the surgery. They call it Happy Heart Day.

Learn more