North Texas

Man Who Helped Construct Cath Lab Becomes First Patient

"I built something that actually saved my life"

New medical advancements are making it easier and safer for doctors to diagnose life-threatening heart problems.

Now, a North Texas lab is equipped with that technology and its first patient was someone with close ties.

Ruben Arismendez is proud of the project that he helped build.

It's the next generation of cardiac catheterization labs, now at Medical City Plano, that puts the most advanced imaging tools right at doctors' fingertips.

The lab allows doctors to get better visual of a patient's heart.

Arismendez was the construction project supervisor who would become the lab's very first patient.

"I build these things to help people and in the long run, I built something that actually saved my life."

Larisa Chern was the cardiology technician who spotted trouble when Arismendez showed up for work just a few days after construction was finished.

"He was all sweaty and short of breath, was breathing heavily," she said.
"Here she comes with a security guard, making sure I went to the ER," Arismendez said.

Tests in the emergency room confirmed Arismendez was on the verge of a massive heart attack.

He was rushed to the new cath lab, where, interventionalist Dr. Guatum Reddy said the new technology allowed him to quickly find five blockages in Arismendez's arteries, without having to use the high doses of radiation it would have normally taken. 

"With this machine, we have maintained image quality as well as reduce the dose of radiation, which is a perfect combination any interventionalist would want to have," Dr. Reddy said.

Dr. Reddy determined Arismendez needed life-saving bypass surgery.
Weeks later, Arismendez said he feels as good as new and with a second chance.

He also calls Chern his guardian angel.

"Not many people get to say you get a second chance at life. With her help and her persistence, I'm around to say that."

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