Marathon runner gives medal to his surgeon

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) –  A man who ran in Sunday’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon 10 years after undergoing a heart and lung operation presented his race medal to his surgeon. The runner underwent a new procedure that cleared scar tissue from his arteries.

Ten years after undergoing a lifesaving, heart-stopping procedure at UC San Diego Health System, John Perry completed his 25th marathon at the San Diego Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon. After being diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension, the then 50-year-old was referred to UC San Diego for a pulmonary thromboendarterectomy (PTE), a surgery to clear the lung’s arteries of scar-like tissue that robs patients of their ability to breathe. In order for the surgeon to see the lung’s tiny, paper thin arteries during the extraordinary eight-to-10-hour surgery, the patient’s blood circulation is completely stopped and the brain ceases activity. 

“Before the surgery I couldn’t walk more than 50 feet, immediately after I was breathing effortlessly, and a year later I was training for my first marathon ever,” said Perry. “I’m so excited to reunite with my surgeon and give him my 25th marathon medal as a sincere thank you for all he has done for me.”

Perry’s surgeon, Stuart Jamieson, MD, Distinguished Professor of Surgery at UC San Diego School of Medicine, pioneered PTE and is the international authority of the procedure, treating patients and training surgeons from around the world.

“Receiving John’s medal is going to be gratifying on so many levels. Not only because he has lived such an active life since the PTE surgery, but because he was saved by an innovative procedure we devised at UC San Diego Health System,” said Jamieson. 

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