Niles woman gets tattoo thanking Cleveland heart surgeon
A Niles woman now has a permanent mark to remember a life changing surgery - and that permanent mark is not the scar.
55 year-old Kathleen Black, of Niles, has tattooed on her arm the image of her own heart rhythm, as well as the name of the University Hospital doctor that performed her life changing surgery.
Black had a bad aortic valve, this meant meant blood couldn't flow freely through her heart, and as a result she was experiencing pain and extreme exhaustion.
Black shared with University Hospital officials that three of her brothers died in their fifties from massive heart attacks, so she knew she had to do something to address the problem. That's where Dr. Cristian Baeza, a cardiac surgeon at University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute in Cleveland, comes into the story and performed a successful aortic valve replacement surgery.
"I told Dr. Baeza that when this was all over, I was going to get a tattoo for him. He discouraged me from that, but he's my angel and I wanted to do something so I could always remember what he did for me," said Black, in a media release.
After taking the needed time to recover, Black's son tattooed her arm with an image of her own heart rhythm and Dr. Baeza's name.
"It's been a joy to help repair Kathleen's heart. She's such a fun patient who loves life," said Dr. Baeza. "We generally discourage our cardiac surgery patients from getting tattoos because of the risk of infection, but Kathleen insisted. It's an honor that she feels so grateful to our team at UH Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute."
Black has two granddaughters and now, after surgery, has more energy to play with them and participate in their lives, said University Hospital officials.