Break a leg - not a heart: Local stage manager shares his gratitude for Saint Luke's heart program

"Many thanks to Saint Luke’s and especially to my friend, Dr. Baklanov.” - Jim Mitchell

Jim Mitchell faced a dilemma — miss rehearsal for a play he was producing during crunch time, or risk having a heart attack.  

A warm tightness in Jim’s chest, which began during exercise, climaxed when he was climbing a set of stairs one evening, and eventually lead him to Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City.

Doctors determined that Jim needed to stay the night. Jim told the care team that was impossible because he was the only one on duty at work, managing a performance for the Kansas City Actors Theatre.  

Dr. Dmitri Baklanov, a clinical and interventional cardiologist, spoke with Jim about his critical condition, and informed Jim that he had three arterial blockages near his heart — one at 99%.

“What would be more uncomfortable? Missing two or three days of work, or being back on the job in a day and risking a heart attack?” Jim thought to himself. “Definitely the former!”

Soon after their talk, Jim had a stent put in the utmost blocked artery.

"I called a friend in the business, another stage manager, to cover me at the rehearsal hall. I was very uncomfortable, as was the company, to miss even one day," said Jim.

The very next evening, Jim was back on the job!

“Dr. Baklanov has become a valuable and admired friend for me," said Jim. "I sometimes think that if this episode had not gone as well as it did, I might get to see him more than just once a year, but he’d not tolerate that sort of talk! I’m nearly 72 and still very active. I’ve not had any sort of relapse. I am guardedly confident! Many thanks to Saint Luke’s and especially to my friend, Dr. Baklanov.”

Dr. Baklanov wants patients to know many heart transplants are avoidable if patients have timely preventative care.

“Jim presented with myocardial infarction and blockages in all three vessels of his heart. Bypass surgery would have been a good and standard treatment for him. Yet, his treatment was individualized, and he received coronary stents,” said Dr. Baklanov. “He immediately returned to normal life and remained completely well for the past 12 years, without ever needing any other procedure.”

Learn more about Saint Luke's nationally ranked heart program at Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute