In the right place at the right time

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There’s no other way to say it—Chris Morgan is lucky to be alive. A 43-year-old father of three from Farmington, Chris suffered an aortic dissection, a life-threatening condition that placed a 28-inch tear in his aorta, the body’s largest artery.

And while you could call his survival story a miracle, it was the expert care Chris received from Fairview—both at Fairview Ridges Hospital and University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview—that saved his life and put him on the road to recovery.

This chapter in Chris’ life began one evening in March when he was at an awards banquet for the Eagan High School swim team, which he’s coached for the past 24 years. As he was congratulating his team and handing out awards, Chris started experiencing a “busload of tingles” throughout his body and felt ill, but kept going for another three hours.

At the end of the night when Chris handed the car keys to his wife, Amy, she instantly knew there was something seriously wrong and drove him to the Fairview Ridges Hospital Emergency Department in Burnsville. Coincidentally, one of the moms from the Eagan swim team, Molly Mattson, was starting her shift there as a nurse and saw Chris as he came in. 

Under the direction of Dr. John Houghland at Fairview Ridges Hospital, Chris was quickly given a battery of tests, including a CT scan, EKG and ultrasound to determine what was wrong. Realizing time was of the essence, Houghland ordered Chris to be flown to University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview, in Minneapolis. Once he landed, Chris was in surgery within an hour to repair the aortic dissection, led by yet another Eagan swim parent, Dr. Herbert Ward.

The surgery was successful, and Chris was able to return to work seven weeks later. Several months have passed since his surgery, and Chris continues to credit his Fairview care team for having a positive effect on his attitude and overall prognosis.

While Chris will continue to receive specialized cardiac rehab at Fairview Ridges Hospital in Burnsville for the foreseeable future, he’s stayed busy working full-time and coaching his son’s baseball team—and this winter, he’ll head back to the pool to coach the Eagan High School swim team again.

“The Fairview doctors working with me at Ridges and University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview, are very educated about my condition,” Chris says. “I feel very well provided and cared for, and that means a lot to me.”

And like many who survive serious health issues, Chris says he’s gained a new perspective on life. “The people who surround you are truly what are most important in life.”

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