Healthy & happy before her heart attack!
by Hilary Butschek
August 13, 2014 04:00 AM | 5996 views | 6 6 comments | 29 29 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Donna Fielding, right, underwent a coronary bypass surgery in 2007 at WellStar Kennestone hospital. Her surgery, performed by Dr. William Cooper, left, was just one of many successful surgeries performed yearly. In fiscal 2014, WellStar Health System surgeons performed 350 cardiac bypass surgeries. <br>Staff/C.B. Schmelter
Donna Fielding, right, underwent a coronary bypass surgery in 2007 at WellStar Kennestone hospital. Her surgery, performed by Dr. William Cooper, left, was just one of many successful surgeries performed yearly. In fiscal 2014, WellStar Health System surgeons performed 350 cardiac bypass surgeries.
Staff/C.B. Schmelter
Walking into the operating room at WellStar Kennestone Hospital on Monday didn’t bring back any memories for Donna Fielding, even though she had been there before. The last time Fielding was with Dr. William Cooper in the operating room in 2007, she had been rushed there and told she had a six-hour window before the effects from the heart attack she’d had that day would damage her brain. By the time she made it to the operating table, Fielding said she was unconscious.

“Dr. Cooper was on call that night. He wasn’t even supposed to be here, but he decided to take one more call, and it was me,” Fielding said.

Fielding was transferred to Kennestone Hospital from Northside Cherokee Hospital in order to undergo surgery. Her coronary bypass surgery is just one example of the many successful operations Kennestone performs every year.

WellStar Health System surgeons performed 350 cardiac bypass surgeries in fiscal 2014, up from the 240 performed the year before, said WellStar spokeswoman Christy Rosell.

The hospital was ranked highest in Georgia by Consumer Reports magazine in August for coronary bypass surgery. Consumer Reports used data from more than 1,000 hospitals submitted to the Society of Thoracic Surgeons to compile its list.

WellStar is the largest not-for-profit health system in Georgia and serves a population of more than 1.4 million residents in five counties.

“WellStar Kennestone Hospital is known as a top hospital for cardiac care,” said Cooper, WellStar’s medical director of cardiovascular surgery.

“The data shows that Kennestone has had wonderful successes in heart surgery. We have an excellent team of physicians that are pioneering innovative procedures and delivering world-class care.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 720,000 Americans have a heart attack each year,

When Cooper and Fielding saw each other Monday, they began catching up like old friends. Fielding told her doctor she planned on helping her daughter move into her college dorm Wednesday.

“Is it that time already?” Cooper asked. “Well, how have you been?”

Fielding, a Stockbridge resident, said everyone she interacted with at Kennestone, from her surgeon to the nurses who took care of her for the three weeks she stayed at the hospital, have become family to her now.

Broken heart

Fielding said she thinks her heart attack on Nov. 3, 2007, at the age of 37 was brought on by stress and her father’s death the month prior.

“I was daddy’s little girl, and that literally broke my heart,” she said.

Three days after her father’s funeral, Fielding was donating his old clothing at Goodwill in Cherokee County when she had a heart attack and collapsed, spurring her trip to the hospital and heart surgery.

“Before this happened, I was healthy, but I just didn’t feel good,” Fielding said. “One doctor even told me, ‘It’s just being a mom.’ Because by 5 p.m. every day I was just exhausted.”

That day, an artery had become completely blocked, which stopped blood flowing to her heart, she said. The surgery to save her life, which lasted five hours, dissected the artery to allow blood to flow to the heart again.

“Halfway through the surgery, they told my husband to make funeral arrangements,” Fielding said.

She said her family asked God for help while waiting to hear about the mother of two.

Jordan Fielding, Donna Fielding’s 18-year-old daughter, a freshman at the University of Tennessee, said she was in shock when she heard how serious her mother’s condition was.

“I just remember thinking, ‘What am I going to do?’ We prayed, and we just kept her in our prayers while she was in surgery,” Jordan Fielding said.

Fielding was in a coma for four days after the surgery. After the operation was complete, doctors warned her family that she might not live through the night.

Fielding said much of what happened to her during her bout of health problems was a miracle that she could have only survived with her faith in God.

“That situation brought everything into perspective, and I think some of that was God’s plan,” Fielding said.

New outlook

on life

From the moment she awoke from the coma after the surgery, Fielding said she has had a new plan for life.

“Before this I was such a Type A personality,” Fielding said.

After working at Lockheed Martin for eight years, she left in 1998 to raise her children. While she was a homemaker, Fielding likened herself to a drill sergeant.

She said beds were made every day before school, the kitchen sink was empty and the floors were spotless.

While her husband, Kevin Fielding, who owns the truck brokerage business Kellytown Transportation in Stockbridge, was at work and her two children, Jordan and Chandler, 16, were in school at Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy, she would make sure everything was perfect by 5 p.m.

“I was trying to be super mom and get it all done,” Fielding said. “I was my own worst enemy.”

Fielding said her life was so stressful that she didn’t take time to enjoy it. After her heart attack, the family’s view of their mom has changed.

“I don’t take her for granted anymore. I used to, you know,” Jordan said. “It made me realize I needed to grow up faster and be more thankful for people and not take them for granted.”

Lying in the hospital bed after the surgery, Fielding said she could feel the change in her perspective on life as soon as she saw her family.

“The thing that I thought of when I woke up was love,” Fielding said. “I had the love of my husband, the love of my family and the love of this hospital.”

Now, the family motto is “we’re not here for a long time, we’re here for a good time,” Fielding said.

Nearly seven years after the surgery, Fielding said she feels completely recovered. She said her heart is functioning normally, and she has cut much of the stress out of her life.

“You’ve got to know your limitations. As long as I take care of myself and exercise, I don’t really feel any different,” Fielding said.

Fielding calls her survival a part of God’s plan, and now she enjoys sharing the story of her heart attack and how it helped her family with customers at Moye’s Pharmacy in Stockbridge, where she works as a cashier.

“Every time I hear an ambulance, I stop and say a prayer for whoever is on that because I was one of those people taking that 90 mile an hour ride,” Fielding said.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
Linda Pruitt
August 14, 2014
Dr. Cooper repaired my thoracic aneurysm and heart valve on 15 January 2013 for which I am forever grateful.

I owe my life to him as well as to Dr. Simonoff and Dr. Reitman.

It was quite a shock to have been diagnosed with this type of problem yet the care of Dr. Simonoff and Dr. Cooper have made all the difference in my life. They are the unsung heroes.

Due to their care I will be able to celebrate many more of my children's and grandchildren's birthdays, including my own, of course.
Be Careful
August 13, 2014
This is not news, it's an advertisement for Wellstar.

They made, what 300 some MILLION dollars last year.

They can afford to buy their own ads.

And while you're praising them, it's their fault Emory Adventist Hospital is closing.

Wellstar is buying up all the area doctors practices. Then the doctors refer patients to Well Star hospitals.

So Smyrna is losing a perfectly good hospital to the greed of Wellstar.

You think they're all great and good now, just wait until you have no choice and see how great it is.
Linda Pruitt
August 14, 2014
It is sad that Smyrna will lose a perfectly good hospital, and I thought I would never be in support of a hospital until I became critically ill.

Kennestone as well as what used to be Cobb General have very much improved their care and quality of

personnel in the 31 years that I have lived in Cobb County.

Robert Hand
August 13, 2014
Dec. 4, 2010---Friends took me to Kennestone emergency room. I was weak, dizzy, and a terrible cough. I was suffering heart failure. Dr. Cooper did 4 bypasses on me. I feel good today. My care was excellent.
PR Rep
August 13, 2014
How is this news?
Community Advocate
August 13, 2014
How is it not news? We have this level of care in our community and it's so nice to see a follow-up about someone whose life was saved when this came to Cobb County-- it was not long ago that we had to go to Atlanta if we needed such life-saving cardiac procedures. I'm thankful it is here-- you never know if you, your family, neighbors, or friends might need it.
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