Heart disease is not new to Millville native Sylvester Quillen, Jr. He had a heart attack 14 years ago and ended up having bypass surgery in a Maryland hospital. There also is history of heart disease on both sides of his family. But Mr. Quillen doesn’t dwell on illness. Instead, he focuses on his family and his repair shop in Clarksville. Mr. Quillen, aged 53, also is a supporter of his community and goes out of his way to help others.
Last September he missed his own symptoms. “I felt heaviness in my chest. It was almost like I ate something that bothered me,” he recalls. When he tried to lie down, he had trouble breathing. “I couldn’t catch my breath.” He took three nitroglycerin tablets but they didn’t help.
Both his wife Gail and his daughter Jenna Reynolds, an EMT with Millville Volunteer Fire Company, suspected he was having a heart attack and called 911.
“I got the riot act because I should have known better,” he says. “I knew it was bad when they ran hot to Beebe (with lights and siren). We don’t use the lights and siren unless it is serious.
“They took me straight to the Cath Lab.” Mr. Quillen recalls how quickly he was taken from the ambulance to the Cardiac Cath Lab at Beebe Medical Center where life-saving cardiac interventional procedures are performed. Interventional cardiologist Mouhanad Freih, M.D. opened one blocked artery in Mr. Quillen’s heart and inserted a stent to restore blood flow to the heart muscle. Mr. Quillen, not missing a thing, watched the monitor as Dr. Freih directed the catheter through the arteries.
“I was impressed by everyone’s professionalism. Dr. Freih stayed with me past midnight and Gail said he was still at the hospital at 5 a.m. to make sure that everything was all right.”
Mr. Quillen said that he has been happy with the follow up care and treatment Dr. Freih has given him. There are plenty of cardiologists around but he’s sticking with Dr. Freih. “I started working after three weeks and I’ve gradually been increasing what I do. I go to our gym at the fire house. Dr. Freih tells me to listen to my body.”