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Anita Phancao, M.D., is a heart failure cardiologist with the INTEGRIS Advanced Cardiac Care program.

A Fathers Love Forever Binds A Heart Failure Physician and Her Patient

It’s natural as one year comes to an end to reflect and count your blessings. But for one Jenks, Okla. man, he knows firsthand that each new day truly is a gift.

 “I was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy when I was 40 years old and it never really slowed me down,” says Timothy Stone. “What I didn’t know, is that it was silently getting worse.”

In March of 2015, Stone was working in his backyard when he suddenly collapsed. His wife, Leslie, rushed him to the hospital. It would take some time, but he was eventually diagnosed with double pneumonia. The illness exacerbated his heart condition and led to a cascade of serious health problems. “I felt like I was drowning. My lungs were filling up. I couldn’t breathe. The right side of my heart was shutting down,” remembers Stone. “Though my wife and I didn’t fully understand how sick I was until I was transferred to INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City.” 

 Anita Phancao, M.D., is a heart failure cardiologist with the INTEGRIS Advanced Cardiac Care program. “In essence Tim needed a new heart, but he was so sick initially that we didn't think he had time to wait for one. So we ended up putting him on mechanical support known as an LVAD, or left ventricular assist device, to try and bridge him until he was well enough to tolerate an actual heart transplant,” says Phancao. “There were many times we were concerned he might not make it out of the hospital.” 

But Timothy Stone had a lot to live for, including his daughter’s wedding in June of the next year. “I looked Dr. Phancao right in the eyes and I said, ‘you don't understand. I have to walk my daughter down the aisle… so we need to fix this.’”

Phancao was personally moved by his strong will and determination. “I could still see there was a fire in him. That he was going to fight no matter what.” She continues, “My father passed away when I was younger and so he never got to walk me down the aisle. If I can help somebody else's daughter have that moment with their father – then that’s what I want to try and do for them.” 

Stone’s prognosis wasn’t good. He had a 5 to 10 percent chance of survival without a transplant. His prayers were answered on Oct. 29, 2015.  

 “Dr. Phancao comes running in the room and Leslie and I are sitting there kind of sobbing a little because we were saying our goodbyes,” admits Stone. “She looks at us and says, ‘we found a heart’. Keep in mind this was eight days after being put on the transplant list and that's basically unheard of. And it was a perfect match. So yeah, I'd say there was some divine intervention involved in that.” 

The transplant was a success and four years later, Stone is still doing amazingly well.  “I think if you look back at what he looked like in the hospital after being there for weeks and months, to how he is now, he's a completely different person,” states Phancao. “As a physician, its patients like Tim that remind you of why you do what you do. And it makes you realize that we don't just touch the patient, but their entire family.”

 Phancao quietly sat in the front row of Tim’s daughter’s wedding, knowing that she had done her job and that her late father would have been especially proud.

“I got to walk my daughter down the aisle on her wedding day. That’s a daddy’s job - and I almost wasn’t here to do it,” says Stone. “I am only alive today because of people like Dr. Phancao and the entire team at INTEGRIS.”

Stone also credits his wife, his son, his daughter and his four grandchildren for being his reason for living. 

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Tim Stone

This Oklahoma man knows firsthand that each new day truly is a gift. His story is just one example of many miracles that happen every day at INTEGRIS. Anita Phancao, M.D., is a heart failure cardiologist with the INTEGRIS Advanced Cardiac Care program.