Darrell Pulliam's Heart was in the Right Place at the Right Time

Darrell and Sharon Pullium

Even though he’s in his early 70s, Darrell Pulliam has never been hospitalized a day in his life. So when he began experiencing chest pains while at North Kansas City Hospital for his wife’s knee surgery, he was definitely in the right place at the right time.

“I had brought my wife, Sharon, to the hospital for knee replacement surgery on Jan. 12, 2012,” Darrell says. “I dropped her off at the hospital entrance, then went to park the car.”  As Darrell climbed the two flights of stairs from the parking garage to the hospital’s main entrance, he felt a little tightness in his chest.

“I went with my wife to check her in for surgery, then went to the waiting area, but I kept feeling this tightness,” he describes. As Darrell was trying to “walk the tightness off,” he saw a nurse in the hallway, stopped her, and told her he thought he was experiencing chest pain.

“She put me in a wheelchair and took me straight to the Emergency Room where they performed an EKG,” Darrell says. “Before I knew it I was surrounded by a room full of doctors and nurses. The cardiologist told me I was having a heart attack.” 

Meanwhile, Sharon’s doctor was just about ready to begin her knee surgery. “The hospital staff got word to Sharon’s doctor that I was having a heart attack. They decided to delay her surgery so that she could be with me. It was quite a surprise to us both that I ended up being the patient instead of her.”

Just 37 minutes after his EKG indicated he was having a heart attack, a team from the hospital’s Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory cleared Darrell’s blocked artery, using two stents to prop the artery open. In fact, such quick action is just one of the many reasons North Kansas City Hospital recently received Cycle III Accreditation with PCI from the Society of Chest Pain Centers.

“Everyone moved so quickly, I didn’t suffer any lasting damage to my heart muscle,” Darrell says. “I spent three days in the hospital, then my cardiologist released me and said I could return to my normal activities.”

Now Darrell is feeling great. He plans to work out at his local YMCA, and is taking a number of prescription medications to reduce his risk of having another heart attack.  “We still need to get Sharon’s knee surgery re-scheduled,” he says, “so we’ll be back at North Kansas City Hospital in the near future.”

In the meantime, Darrell is also pitching horseshoes competitively with the Liberty, Mo. Horseshoe Club.  “I plan to compete in the world horseshoe tournament in Knoxville, Tenn., in August this year,” he says. 

“I’m very lucky my wife had her surgery scheduled that day. I might not have been so fortunate if I had been at home when I began experiencing chest pain,” Darrell adds. “Everyone acted so fast. The staff was wonderful. If this had to happen, I could not have been in a better place!”

The Right Place at the Right Time