By TAYLOR HARTZ
When Mark Stankewicz, M.D., was asked to perform a procedure to repair a whole in the heart of 21-year-old Cesia Toledo from Honduras, he knew it was something he had to do.
Stankewicz, a Southington native, is one of few cardiologists in the nation who can perform the procedure that repairs a hole in the heart through a small incision below the groin, rather than with open-heart surgery.
A specialist at St. Thomas Health in Nashville, Tenn., since 2007, Stankewicz has performed the rare and revolutionary surgery less than 100 times in the 10 years since he began practicing the procedure.
When he heard that Toledo, born in Honduras with a hole in heart, was unable to receive the operation in her home country because of her age, he and his team at St. Thomas donated their time to perform the surgery for free.
Without the surgery, Toledo would have had a shorter life expectancy and would likely have been in and out of the hospital often, said Stankewicz.
Stankewicz, who graduated from Southington High School in 1991 and went on to study medicine at Emory University in Georgia and Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. He said that donating his time and skill to help Toledo was very rewarding.
“She was very happy and her family was very happy,” said Stankewicz. “It saved her from a huge heart operation. Now she should have a normal life without any issues.”
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Taylor Hartz, email her at THartz@SouthingtonObserver.com.
To see a video, courtesy of St. Thomas Health, visit: http://nothingshallbeimpossible.com/story/57/cesias-story