AdventHealth gives Santa his magic back with new AFib surgery

ORLANDO, Fla. — AdventHealth said it is now treating atrial fibrillation patients with a new program that’s innovative and minimally invasive.


The procedure is exactly what one man needed to get him ready for the most wonderful time of the year.

Santa never struggles to find the perfect present for kids. But right now, he’s at a loss on what to give the medical team at AdventHealth.

“I wish there was something in my magic toy bag,” said AdventHealth patient John Hayes. “To say ‘thanks.’ I don’t really have much.”

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Hayes embodied the spirit of Santa for nearly two decades, but flying with the reindeer and getting through the chimney became exhausting.

“I was out of wind. There were so many things that I wanted to do that I couldn’t anymore,” Hayes said.

For 10 years he dealt with atrial fibrillation, also known as AFib.

“So, what’s in arrhythmia, as we call it in the in the business, where the heart is not squeezing in a regular rhythm,” said AdventHealth cardiac surgeon Dr. David Spurlock. “With the heart racing, people can get lightheaded, just feel tired.”

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This summer Hayes was the first patient in AdventHealth’s new AFib program.

It’s two procedures using cameras to make small incisions which before would involve open-heart surgery.

“What we did was an ablation, so an epicardial, and endocardial ablation, which just means attack the outside and the inside of the heart at the same time,” Spurlock said.

And it was a success.

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“I got a second chance that other people don’t get,” Hayes said.

So now, Santa is back in full swing.

“Saturday night, I made five appearances. And I mean, I’m up at six in the morning. I got home at 10 o’clock. That’s never happened before,” Hayes said.

So, it was easy for him to return to the hospital which helped him get his magic back.

He met with children spending their holidays in the hospital, sharing the spirit of the season with them.

See more in the video above.

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