Rae Arnold had never experienced any problems with her heart. But in June 2011, she began having chest pains and underwent emergency triple bypass surgery at a hospital in San Diego. After 12 weeks of rehabilitation, she began experiencing symptoms again and had to go in for another surgery. This one did not go as planned.
“I came out of recovery and knew something was wrong,” she recalls. Arnold’s heart was significantly scarred from the first procedure, making the second needed surgery impossible. “I asked the doctor, ‘What’s the plan?’ and he told me there was nothing more that could be done. I don’t normally cry, but that’s when I cried.”
Fortunately for Arnold, her cardiologist sent her to the University of California, San Diego Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center, where she met the center’s two directors, Drs. Michael Madani, MD, and Ehtisham Mahmud, MD. “I had the two heads of the center standing there, treating me like a queen,” recalls Arnold. “They are some of the busiest people and there they were, holding my hand and assuring me that they would do everything they could.” Arnold successfully underwent treatments devised by the physicians and today, she feels like herself again, enjoying her family including three children and eight grandchildren. “They literally saved my life.”
Arnold is one of thousands of patients who have benefited from the UC San Diego Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center—the region’s only facility providing cardiovascular research, services and training programs in one location. Arnold will share her story on Feb. 7 as part of the 18th Annual Heart of San Diego Gala, which benefits the greatest needs of the Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center. The black-tie event, themed “Pulse of the Future,” will take place at the Park Hyatt Aviara in Carlsbad, from 6 p.m.-11 p.m. The event will include a cocktail reception, dinner and dancing.
“The Heart of San Diego Gala is an important annual event which provides funding for cardiovascular research, clinical care and training for the next generation of cardiologists,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “With the support of generous donors, the Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center can continue to translate groundbreaking research into advanced patient care that saves lives.”
This year’s event will honor Ken Buechler, PhD, co-founder and former president and chief scientific officer of Biosite Inc., for his innovative contributions to health care. Under Buechler’s leadership and in collaboration with cardiologists at UC San Diego, Biosite successfully developed the B-type Natriuretic Peptide (BNP) test, a diagnostic product that changed the way physicians identify and treat heart failure.
“UC San Diego has pioneered new therapies for treatment of cardiovascular disease for more than four decades, so we are thrilled to recognize Ken Buechler, who has advanced cardiovascular science in the same spirit of innovation,” said Madani, director of the Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center – Surgery. “Thanks to his work, countless patients around the globe have benefited.”
While incredible advancements have been made in cardiovascular care, the battle against heart disease remains ongoing and critical. Heart disease claims more lives each year than cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases and accidents combined. Every 34 seconds, on average, an American has a heart attack. Every minute, someone in the United States dies from a heart disease-related event.
“We are very grateful to the friends who attend the Heart of San Diego Gala and provide essential funding to ensure that our physicians and researchers can continue pursuing new breakthroughs in treating and preventing cardiovascular disease,” said Mahmud, director of the Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center – Medicine. “By supporting the Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center, our generous donors enable patients to watch their families grow; give children new chances for life; and allow friends, young and old, to laugh together longer.”
Catherina Madani and Genevieve Mahmud will serve as gala chairs. The Heart of San Diego Gala will begin Feb. 7 with cocktails at 6:00 p.m. and dinner at 7:30 p.m., followed by dancing to the J.P. Hunton Band. Attire is black-tie. Open to the public, tickets are $500 for Ruby Seating and $650 for Diamond Seating. Tables and sponsorship packages are also available.