Not everyone would undergo heart surgery with the world watching. But Rick Ridnour was willing to take center stage if that meant getting the best possible care to save his life. 

An energetic marketing professor, Rick lived an active life of biking, hiking, golf, fishing, and spending time with family. Despite this healthy lifestyle, Rick’s genes were working against him. His grandfather died of a heart attack at 52. His brother died of heart disease at 52. And when he reached 52, Rick underwent triple bypass.

The procedure bought Rick 12 years until he needed another surgery to unblock his arteries. In total, the 64-year-old had had 21 stents.

In July 2012, he suffered a coronary total occlusion (CTO)—a complete blockage of an artery—that left him barely able to walk around the block.

After Rick’s cardiologist in Naperville, Ill., failed three times to open the CTO, he referred Rick to two of the nation’s leading CTO experts: Aaron Grantham, M.D., and Barry Rutherford, M.D.

As it turned out, the Saint Luke’s cardiologist were demonstrating the latest CTO techniques via teleconference to other cardiologists from around the world. So Rick traveled to Kansas City in November to be one of eight patients in the demonstration.

At Saint Luke’s, everyone from the scheduler to the nurses made a great impression on Rick. But the surgical outcome had the greatest impact: Rick felt much better the day after surgery and was back teaching within a week.

Today, Rick’s heart is beating strong and he’s back to living an active life. 

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