Posts Tagged ‘Patient Stories’

Hayley Lairmore’s Mayo Clinic Journey

July 13, 2010

I first heard about Hayley Lairmore through a comment card her mom, Christine, sent to Mayo Clinic after their visit to Rochester last December. It was an amazing story of how Hayley had been throwing up an average of 10 times a day for several months, and how Christine and her husband Robert had been unable to get answers from several hospitals in southern California. But early one September morning (about 1 a.m.) Christine stumbled upon a blog post from a Mayo Clinic patient, who described symptoms just like Hayley’s and who mentioned her doctor, Phil Fischer, M.D. That led Christine to this video of Dr. Fischer, and this podcast, and eventually answers for Hayley.

Christine recounts the story in this post on Sharing Mayo Clinic, and you can read more about it in this story published today on

I was in California in May, and took the opportunity on Mother’s Day to meet the Lairmores personally and to interview Christine and Hayley about the experience. The video below is the first of a series in which Mrs. Lairmore describes Hayley’s illness and how social media tools like blogs and YouTube helped her find answers at Mayo Clinic:

Check back tomorrow for Part 2 of the series.

Lee Aase is manager of syndication and social media at Mayo Clinic.

Living the Dream – Part 4

September 25, 2009

Darrin Nelson of Rochester, NY, wrote this blog entry on Sept. 1, 2009, the day after he was released from Mayo Clinic – St. Marys Hospital following minimally invasive heart surgery to repair his mitral valve. This is the final post in a series of four.

My wife and I flew in on Aug. 26, 2009, for my pre-op tests on Thursday, Aug. 27, and meeting with Dr. Suri. My pre-op was simple. A quick chest Xray and an electrocardiogram…boom…we were done by 10 a.m. We met with Dr. Suri and Nurse Practioner Erika Halverson at 1 p.m. The meeting was a brief 10 minutes, mostly for my wife to ask questions, because I was already past my questions. Dr. Suri left while my wife and I spoke with Erika. He knocked about five minutes later and asked if I wanted to meet someone who had the procedure done a year prior….of course I would…so he introduced me to a gentleman and his wife who appeared to be in their mid to late forties. I basically asked him the same questions I asked the other robotic patients I had spoken to, and got all the answers I expected.

My mother arrived that evening. She insisted on being there during the surgery, which I was fine with, until I saw her for the first time Thursday evening. She walked into my hotel room and immediately started sobbing. My wife nor I couldn’t understand a word she was saying, but as parents we understood what she was going through. I started crying, too. Even as a grown man, I can’t stand to see my mother cry. My mother and I hugged for several minutes, she got a hold of herself, and the three of us went out for a nice dinner downtown. I didn’t talk much. I let the two of them carry the conversation. I was obviously preoccupied.

Living the Dream – Part 3

September 23, 2009

Darrin Nelson of Rochester, NY, wrote this blog entry on Sept. 1, 2009, the day after he was released from Mayo Clinic – St. Marys Hospital following minimally invasive heart surgery to repair his mitral valve. This is the third post in a series of four. Check back Friday for the next installment.

OK, now I had to understand if I was a candidate for minimally invasive mitral valve repair. I made an appointment for May and flew out to have some additional tests done and meet with Dr. Suri. I had a chest X-Ray and a CT scan. I met with Dr. Suri and noticed a few things right away: 1) He was younger than I expected, maybe in his late 30s or early 40s, 2) He was well dressed, wearing a suit similar to one of mine that had the Bill Maher sort of shimmer to it, and 3) He oozed confidence. As I questioned him about his technique, his success rate, and his approach, it almost appeared like he felt a little insulted that I was not as confident as he was in what he was offering.

I walked out of this meeting intrigued, impressed, and slightly skeptical. As an analytic, I believe if something seems too good to be true, it usually is. I let Dr Suri know that I wanted to think this over and consider my options and I’d get back to him. I asked him two things:

1) How long of a lead time do you need to schedule robotically assisted surgery? He answered 60 days or so, while he runs the robot, he also has another cardiac surgeon in the room assisting.

2) How can I confirm that my insurance company will cover this technique? They had covered all of my previous tests, but I wanted to be sure that I wasn’t going to be whacked with some seven digit bill. He put me in contact with their back office and told me they could provide the procedure codes so I could obtain pre-approval from my insurance company.

Living the Dream – Part 2

September 21, 2009

Darrin Nelson of Rochester, NY, wrote this blog entry on Sept. 1, 2009, the day after he was released from Mayo Clinic – St. Marys Hospital following minimally invasive heart surgery to repair his mitral valve. This is the second post in a series of four. Check back Wednesday for the next installment.

Coming from Rochester, N.Y., I expected Rochester, Minn., to resemble my hometown. Growing up in New York’s Hudson Valley, a stone’s throw from New York City, I always felt a bit of compromise and simplification by now living in Rochester, N.Y., perceiving it to be a small community. The people are very friendly in Rochester, N.Y., and aside from the name, that is probably where the similarities stop. The greater Rochester, Minn. population is about 1/10 that of Rochester, N.Y. The airport is set amongst farms and is a short 10-15 minute cab ride from downtown. Mayo Clinic is composed of buildings (hospitals and administrative) downtown with a few exceptions. For example, St. Marys Hospital, where I had my surgery, is a mile from this downtown cluster. There are hotels all around and shuttle services run between the hotels, Mayo facilities, and the airport. There is even an underground walkway called the “subway.” With 38,000 employees, Mayo Clinic is Rochester, Minn.’s largest employer, and it’s clear that most people around town respect and appreciate the importance of the facility.


Living the Dream – Part 1

September 18, 2009

Darrin Nelson of Rochester, NY, wrote this blog entry on Sept. 1, 2009, the day after he was released from Mayo Clinic – St. Marys Hospital following minimally invasive heart surgery to repair his mitral valve. This is the first post in a series of four. Check on Monday for the next installment.

As a very active 44 year old male, I am extremely surprised to be writing this for many reasons. I’m actually sitting across the street from the Courtyard Marriot in a little park in front of Saint Marys Hospital, which is affiliated with the Mayo Clinic, on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2009. You see, I was discharged from Saint Marys Hospital last night about 7 p.m., exactly 72.5 hours after having Dr. Rakesh Suri perform a successful minimally invasive, robotic mitral valve repair on me. It’s partly sunny here and in the mid 70s, certainly not the nicest day I’ve experienced, but is definitely one of the most beautiful days I’ve been able to enjoy, with a mitral valve that doesn’t leak anymore.


This is my story.

Happily married to a Sicilian for 19 years with almost 300 of her closest relatives living nearby, my friends and family are not surprised why I call Rochester, N.Y., my home. But when I broke the news to them that I was going to need heart surgery, they were all blown away. I have devoted much of my life to healthy living and nobody would have expected that I would have to endure this challenge, including me.

Becoming an Employee after 35 Years as a Mayo Patient

September 10, 2009

Linda Rockey’s first experience at Mayo Clinic was in 1971, when her grandmother insisted that she come to Mayo Clinic for treatment of her worsening Crohn’s disease. “It was a week that just changed my life,” she says. Thirty years later Mayo neurosurgeon Dr. Fredric Meyer operated on Linda to repair a double aneurysm in her brain. In the video below, Linda describes how her life-changing experience as a Mayo Clinic patient led her to move to Rochester to become a Mayo employee so she could help serve patients:

As you can see, Linda’s passion for Mayo Clinic and for helping our patients (and those who care for them) is obvious. It was a pleasure meeting her last week, and we look forward to her future contributions here on Sharing Mayo Clinic. Just as she enjoys helping first-time patients and their families find their way in the downtown Rochester campus, Linda will be sharing stories and observations as a regular contributor to this blog.

What’s your Mayo Clinic story?

Lee Aase is manager for syndication and social media at Mayo Clinic.

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Mayo Clinic Has Given Me Back My Life

September 3, 2009

Hello, my name is Charles Drysdale. I would like to share my story about how Mayo Clinic has given me back my life.

My story begins in late 2005. During my regular checkup my primary care physician discovered that my hemoglobin level was abnormally low (4). I was promptly hospitalized and transfused. This began a series of exams with the local specialists in gastroenterology, hematology and nephrology.

Charles Drysdale and grandson, Connor

Charles Drysdale and grandson, Connor

Over the next 14 months I was subjected to a wide variety of tests to see why I was “losing blood.” No one was able to offer a diagnosis. All they did was treat my symptoms and run more tests. In frustration, after my third series of upper/lower GI tests, I asked my specialist what was wrong with me. He finally said we don’t know. You have a complex case and need to go to Mayo Clinic. That was the most useful thing he had said over the last year.

I contacted Mayo in Jacksonville and was scheduled for an appointment in April of 2007. I began the screening process and was amazed that by the end of the first week they had diagnosed me with acute liver failure. Over the next three months I progressed thru the screening process to determine if I was a suitable transplant candidate. I’d previously had some heart problems that raised a question about my suitability. During this whole ordeal the pre-transplant team was supportive and positive. I can truthfully say my coordinator was an angel. She never let me get down. My case went before the committee several times but I was finally approved in July of 2007 and was put on the transplant list. I realized because of the unique nature of my situation I would require not only a liver but also a kidney, and that I might have a long wait for a donor. I went home to wait for the phone call.

Four days later I got a call!!!! The next few days are a blur. My surgery, that was estimated to take from 10-12 hours, only took six. The recovery team had me up and walking in about two days. I was home after 10 days. The whole process wasn’t perfect, but I can’t imagine a better outcome.

I just completed my two-year review. All systems are operating normally. I feel great and have been able to return to my life. Two years ago I moved around Mayo in a wheelchair. Now I’m able to work full time, go fishing, kayaking, cycling, swimming and enjoy watching my grandson grow up.

My family and I can never thank you enough for what you have done for me.

Regards, Charles Drysdale
Orange Park, FL

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