Patient reunited with team that saved his life after deadly heart condition

A man with a critical heart condition was reunited with the care team that saved his life.

In a heartwarming reunion Wednesday, Hector Moreno was able to return to Kaiser Permanente San Francisco, where he had two life-saving surgeries back to back, to thank the doctors and nurses.

"Thank you for all you guys did for me," said Moreno as he entered the room with flowers in his hands and began hugging the healthcare workers.

Moreno has had a long journey. It started with a broken heart after he lost his 26-year-old son to cancer last June.

"After losing my son, I wanted to die. I would pray in the night that I wouldn’t wake up anymore because the pain is so much, and he was my best friend," he said.

Four months later, he had a heart attack and a triple bypass at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco. He recovered, but in April, he was back in the emergency room because he couldn’t breathe.

Doctors found a tear in his aorta, and he was immediately taken to surgery.

"It’s a highly morbid event, 50% of people don’t make it to surgery, and approximately 25% of people who do have surgery don’t survive it," said Dr. Paul Lapunzina, Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery. 

It was even more complicated because he had the triple bypass six months prior. Moreno spent two weeks in the ICU.

"I feel good being able to walk again because I didn’t think I was going to be able to walk again," said Moreno.

"The repair was very challenging given the intensity of the scar tissue," said Lapunzina.

Inspired by the way doctors rallied around him, Moreno said they gave him a new reason to live.

"What you guys did is above and beyond the call of duty to me, and I’m just thankful," he said. "Thank you is not enough for me."

Lapunzina said he doesn’t always get to see his patients after they’ve fully recovered, especially in such a remarkable way.