Mayor Henry Exclusive: First interview since open heart surgery

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Fort Wayne, Ind. (WANE-TV) Exactly three weeks after quadruple bypass heart surgery, Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry is talking about it for the first time with Newschannel 15.

At 65 years of age, Tom Henry is looking at life from a different perspective. “It brings a whole new focus,” said Henry about undergoing open heart surgery. “You begin to realize that there is a lot more to life than to make more money or to climb a professional ladder. You really sit back and realize what’s more important,” he added.

It started more than a month ago with a sharp pain while he was mowing the lawn. “All of a sudden out of nowhere I did receive a sharp pain in my chest which is something I’d never experienced before, so i figured it was indigestion,” said Henry. Two weeks later it happened again. This time he sought medical help. On Friday, November 4th Doctors discovered four major arteries were blocked. Two were 90% blocked, another 80% and the fourth at 60% blockage. It was so bad, doctors wouldn’t let him leave the hospital. “They indicated the blockage was significant enough that it was in my best interest to not leave the building and they would like to schedule surgery for the following Monday morning.”

Mayor Henry spent the weekend in the ICU contemplating life. “It’s a real game changer in your life. It really knocked the wind of of my sails as they say,” said Henry. It was hard for him to believe. He had always stayed in shape, watched what he ate. But now he was facing the reality that his heart could give out at any moment, and the only cure was major surgery.

Monday, November 7th the surgeons went to work. At first, Mayor Henry was scheduled for a triple bypass, but once surgeons got a look at the blockage they decided to add a fourth. A surgery that was expected to take 4 to 6 hours ended up lasting 8 hours. After it was over, doctors deemed the surgery a complete success and expect Mayor Henry to make a complete recovery. But it will take time.

“I feel pretty good. There’s still a lot pain in my chest. I don’t have as much stamina as I would like to have,” said Henry. But so far, he’s right on target for a full recovery. The average recovery takes 12 weeks. Now in this third week, Henry has begun to meet city officials in his home. He expects to go back to city hall part-time starting on Monday.

He hopes that his personal story will be a lesson to everyone in Fort Wayne to take heart. “Don’t take your heart for granted. I did. And it almost cost me my life,” said Henry.