Scott Gefroh, probably more than most teachers, was keen to get back to the classroom this fall and back to teaching social studies to the young minds of Horizon Middle school in Bismarck, North Dakota. "I really don't like being out of my classroom," Scott recently told the Bismarck Tribune. A heart condition had sidelined him for much of the past year. It was the latest in a series of heart problems that began in 2003 and led him to Mayo Clinic.
As Scott tells the Tribune, his medical rollercoaster ride began when doctors diagnosed him with a bad heart valve in 2003 – an issue that had likely been with him since birth. That valve was replaced, but after nine years, it, too, needed replacement. This time, the paper reports, Scott's health "continued to deteriorate." Near the end of August 2013, doctors discovered that Scott had acquired an infection around the surgical site. The infection led to an aortic aneurysm. Just two weeks after surgery in November 2013 to repair the aneurysm, Scott had a second one.
At that point, the Tribune reports that Scott's surgeon at Mayo Clinic, Rakesh Suri, M.D., gave him two options: another open heart surgery or going home to spend his last days with his family. Despite the risks, Scott tells the Tribune he knew what he had to do. "My chances, after the previous three (surgeries) and severity of the situation due to another aneurysm on the aorta, were extremely slim," he says. "I knew right away that I would have the surgery, because at least I had a chance at survival."
It was a chance that Dr. Suri tells the newspaper even surprised him, calling Scott "a walking miracle" after the success of this most recent procedure. And while he's had to give up certain things, Scott is more than happy to be back where he feels he belongs in a Horizon Middle School classroom. "I want to teach," he say, adding, "I don't know what else I would do." Thanks to Dr. Suri and his surgical team at Mayo, Scott's wife, Jean, tells the Tribune that's something her husband won't have to worry about any more. "The people at Mayo are magicians," she says.
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