‘Like someone had punched a hole in my chest’: Central Florida man survives ‘exploding heart’

ORLANDO, Fla. — A Central Florida man survived what doctors call an “exploding heart.”


This is the story of how Roy Reid is a living miracle.

“I suffered what’s called an acute aortic dissection,” he said. “What happens with an acute aortic dissection is that your aorta splits open. It was like someone had punched a hole in my chest and was squeezing my heart.”

Reid’s wife rushed him to a hospital in Altamonte Springs.

“The dissection went from my carotid artery down to the root,” Reid said.

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He was then airlifted to AdventHealth Orlando, where a doctor drew Reid’s heart and planned how to repair it.

“The surgery was six hours long to repair the heart. Essentially, they had to replace all of what was damaged, which now comprises about 25% of my heart is, synthetic material,” Reid said. “There was no prognosis for a positive outcome. If I survived that, I would likely need to be cared for by somebody for the rest of my life.”

Reid was in an induced coma for a week.

“It’s a little bit like waking up in the middle of a plane crash. There are all these things going on around you. You’re hooked up to all this stuff. Everyone is telling you to calm down. You’re paranoid,” he said.

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Now, three years later, Reid has no long-term effects.

“I woke up as healthy as you can be for open-heart surgery,” Reid said. “My cognition is very much what it was beforehand.”

Roy said he’s grateful for the scare, giving him an entirely different outlook on life.

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“It’s really reset the purpose I have in my life now, which is three simple ideas: love people, be grateful and give generously,” Reid said.

Wednesday marked three years since the life saving surgery. Reid has since lost 40 pounds. He now works out every day and often runs 5Ks with his wife.

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