It all began when Ted started having shortness of breath when performing moderate physical actions.
To find the cause, on November 30, 2003, Ted underwent a drug-based stress test. This test was chosen instead of the regular treadmill test because of Ted's impaired left leg (due to prior spinal cord surgery). This test puts a stress on the heart to see how it reacts under that condition. The results showed decreased blood flow to the lower part of the heart.
Ted mentioned to his doctor that he wanted to perform any surgery after the holidays so that he could "see 2004". So, he scheduled an angiogram on January 6 to probe the cause of the decreased blood flow. The angiogram showed severe coronary artery blockage on the left main coronary artery, and on four other arteries. Because of the location of the blockages, angioplasty was not an option for Ted. The only treatment was bypass procedure. If he chose *not* to have bypass surgery, the cardiac surgeon told us that he would be a ticking time bomb, and could experience a massive, crippling heart attack in the future.
Ted coronary bypass surgery took place on Monday, January 12 at Summit Medical Center in Oakland. These days, this type of surgery has become relatively "routine", though still with some risks. Summit is one of the best cardiac hospitals in Northern California and they perform many of these operations daily. Ted's cardiac surgeon, Dr. Iverson, is one of the best at Summit.
Ted's bypass surgery began at 8:30 AM on Monday. During the surgury, the surgeons encountered some unexpected complications, including difficult access to embedded coronary arteries, bleeding, and blood clotting problems. The surgery lasted until 6:30 PM. A total of five arteries were bypassed.
After surgery, on Monday evening, post-surgical recovery took place in the Cardio Pulminary Unit (CPU) on the 3rd floor. His blood pressure was unstable throughout Monday evening. The doctors had to transfuse many units of whole blood, plasma, and platelets in an attempt to replace internal blood loss and help clotting.
About 4 AM on Tuesday morning, Ted's heart stopped ("Code Blue"). Doctors who were present all throughout the evening rushed to him and were able to revive his pulse. But his heart stopped a second time while they were trying to revive him. The cardiac surgeon reopened his chest to see if there was any active bleeding taking place. None was found. However, several blood clots had formed on the sac of the heart. The clots were removed. Afterwards, his blood pressure began stabilizing. But, Ted remained unresponsive after sedation was removed. His body had become extremely bloated as a result of the large amount of infusion that took place earlier along with impaired kidney function.
On Wednesday, he continued to remain unresponsive. Kidney and liver functions were degrading. He continued to be unresponsive through Thursday, and his blood pressure began to degrade.
On Friday morning, an EEG was performed to determine the presence of brain activity. On Friday afternoon, the family was informed by Dr. Iverson, the cardiac surgeon, and later, by a neurologist, Dr. Starsky, that the EEG showed no brain activity. Ted was pronounced clinically brain dead.
After 24 hours, a second neurologist exam was needed to verify the first neurologist's findings in order to satisfy the legal requirments to pronounce Ted legally brain dead. Dr. McQuinn, a neurologist, examined Ted on Sunday morning. Very shortly after she completed her neurological exam, Ted's heart began to quickly fail. Ted's wife was by his side, clutching him. Ted's only child, Jimmy was also in the room to be by Ted's side. Less than 20 seconds later, Ted's heart completely stopped. He was prononced dead at 11:40 AM, Sunday, January 18, 2004.
The heart surgeon and anesthesiologist believe Ted had an underlying, long-standing liver problem that did not show up on his pre-surgery lab work. Because of the stress of surgery and anesthesia on his body, his liver was unable to compensate and withstand the assault, and thus began the series of events that led to his death.
Ted's family wishes to thank all the relatives and friends that were with him by his side who provided support and comfort throughout this week, as well as everyone who prayed for his recovery.
Ted is survived by his wife, Herminia ("Miniang", "Hermie") Villacorte and son, Jaime ("Jimmy") Villacorte.