Lauren Cooper and Her ‘Complete Miracle’

Emergency heart surgery gave patient a second chance at life

At age 23, Lauren Cooper was the picture of health. Texas-born, she had been a scholastic athlete and moved to Florida with her husband James, who is stationed at Hurlburt Field.

One morning, she awakened with severe pain in her chest and back.

“I knew it wasn’t right, so I called my husband and he gave me directions to Fort Walton Beach Medical Center,” said Lauren of what would be a harrowing day.

She drove herself to the hospital, underwent a CAT scan that revealed her chest was filling with blood and was placed in the care of Dr. Eric Sandwith, whose specialties include thoracic and cardiac surgery.

Lauren had suffered an aortic dissection as the result of an aneurysm that produced a tear in the inner layer of the aorta.

Prior to the emergency, she had no history of heart trouble and, given her newness to town, she had no relationship with Fort Walton Beach Medical Center.

Sandwith and his team performed a 12-hour surgery after which Lauren spent two weeks recovering in the hospital.

“Now, I am 100 percent healthy with no limitations,” she said. “It’s a complete miracle.

“Dr. Sandwith treated me like he would a member of his own family. He was compassionate and confident that he could fix the problem. The CVICU (cardiovascular intensive care unit) nurses were amazing. Everyone was wonderful, absolutely incredible.”

Going forward, Lauren will check in with Dr. Sandwith annually, “but everything is looking great,” she said.

The Fort Walton Beach Medical Center Heart Center serves to provide exemplary comprehensive medical and surgical care to patients requiring cardiovascular care.

It emphasizes the prevention and management of cardiovascular disorders, as well as advancing the use of innovative noninvasive approaches to treating patients without open-heart surgery.

The Heart Center offers patients with heart disorders the broadest and most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment options in Northwest Florida.

It was one of the first heart centers in the area to implant stents to open blocked arteries and to use drug-eluting stents to prevent re-obstruction of coronary vessels after stenting.

Patients have access to an array of cardiac treatment options, including medication, dietary adjustments, exercise, angioplasty, ablation and heart surgery.

Physicians have helped pioneer the use of minimally invasive procedures that enable a growing number of patients to avoid open-heart surgery.

This translates into less patient discomfort, fewer medications and earlier discharges from the hospital.


Fort Walton Beach Medical Center  |  1000 MAr Walt drive  |  (850) 862-1111  |

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