Kathryn Roudebush says the only positive thing to come out of her father dealing with a decade of uncontrolled atrial fibrillation (AFib) was that she was familiar with the Wolf Mini-Maze procedure when she developed the same heart condition earlier this year. Atrial fibrillation, commonly known as AFib, is an irregular heartbeat that can cause shortness of breath, fatigue and confusion.
“Knowing about Dr. Wolf’s mini-maze procedure was like seeing a light at the end of the tunnel,” she says. “I was fed up after being in and out of the hospital four times in the span of a few weeks as a result of my AFib. I can’t imagine how my father felt after dealing with it for so many years.” She remembers watching her father, Joe Roudebush, sink into a deep depression because of his uncontrollable AFib.
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) says the most serious complications from AFib include stroke and heart failure. That’s why common forms of treatment include medication and procedures to prevent blood clots and control heart rhythm. The elder Roudebush recalls feeling hopeless after those treatments failed to control his rhythm.
Driven to the Brink of Suicide
“I was on the brink of suicide because I didn’t know what to do. Other physicians I spoke with had run out of options for me. When I saw a notice about a seminar on the Wolf Mini-Maze, I had a glimmer of hope for the first time in years,” he says.
Dr. Wolf’s minimally invasive procedure isolates any abnormally firing nerves and removes the left atrial appendage (LAA) of the heart, an ear-like flap that’s on the outside of the left upper chamber of the heart and is the source of more than 90 percent of potential blood clots to the brain.
“Joe’s story is one I hear often. Patients tell me they’ve felt helpless during the course of their treatment for AFib. They don’t like the way blood thinners make them feel and other procedures simply haven’t worked. After a mini-maze procedure, not only is the heart back in rhythm, but patients are able to get off blood thinner medication immediately,” says Randall Wolf, M.D., a cardiothoracic surgeon affiliated with Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center and UTHealth.
Living Free from AFib
Joe Roudebush underwent the procedure, and now lives free from AFib.
“I remember my Dad waking up after the procedure, looking at us and saying, ‘today is the tomorrow we were hoping for yesterday.’ It’s true. Since Dr. Wolf performed his mini-maze procedure, Dad’s life has made a total turnaround,” Kathryn Roudebush remembers.
So when she developed AFib this spring, she didn’t waste time traveling from Chicago to Houston to have the procedure at Memorial Hermann Memorial City.
“For me, knowing this procedure would work and seeing the way my father’s life improved made it an easy decision to travel to Houston to have a mini-maze procedure,” Kathryn Roudebush says. “To top it off, the hospital facility was wonderful. Everyone I interacted with, from the nurses to Dr. Wolf’s support staff, was caring and compassionate. It was such an easy process to stay at the Westin during my few days of recovery, and then fly back to Chicago.”
Kathryn Roudebush says she started feeling better immediately after the procedure and is now on her way to a full recovery.
“My tennis team is already calling to see when I’ll be back on the courts. I’m not up for singles just yet, but I am excited to be able to play again soon,” she says.