UnityPoint Health - Des Moines

 Vernon Roe

There was a good chance Vernon Roe would not survive after suffering a massive heart attack in 1993. But the quick work of the physicians and care providers at Iowa Lutheran Hospital, coupled with Vernon's determination to live to see his first grandson grow up, enabled him to pull through.

"After I had recovered, I talked to one of the people who had helped me in the ambulance," Vernon says. "I asked her if the ambulance had a roof that let the light in because I swore I saw streetlights as they were taking me to the hospital.

"They told me it didn't. But I know I saw them. Maybe it was an angel. And if it was, I told that angel that I wasn't going. I was staying right here. I was going to be around to get to know my grandson."

Now nearly 20 years later, Vernon's grandson is an adult and his trust in the care providers of UnityPoint Clinic Cardiology is as strong as ever. His initial care was provided by Dr. Amar Nath, M.D. and is now overseen by Prasad Palakurthy, M.D. Both physicians are members of UnityPoint Clinic Cardiology.

Fighting a family history of cardiac issues, Vernon has had to rely on the team at Iowa Lutheran time and time again over the years.

To date he has had at least seven heart attacks, a mild stroke and a pacemaker implant, which has had to be replaced three times because he has outlived the battery. Many in the same circumstance would be tired of repeated visits to the doctor, but not Vernon.

"I appreciate all they have done for me," he says with a smile that lights up the room. "Without them, I wouldn't be here. Lutheran has done everything for me."

Vernon's father had a heart attack at age 47 - the same age Vernon had his first heart attack - and died at the age of 50 after a subsequent heart attack. Added to his family history, Vernon was a three-pack-a-day smoker and had a strenuous job laying carpet. He knows he is lucky to still be around, enjoying the company of his wife of more than 45 years, Phyllis, and his seven grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

"We get the family together once a month and that's nice," Vernon says. "And my wife's family comes in from all over once a year for a family reunion."

Phyllis says the annual reunion has become a tradition she is happy to share with Vernon.

"I just feel so fortunate that he's here," she says. "He has been very lucky and we are grateful for the care he has received at Iowa Lutheran."