Trip to doctor for “sinus infection” saves life of local coach - Toledo News Now, Breaking News, Weather, Sports, Toledo

Trip to doctor for “sinus infection” saves life of local coach

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TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) -

The St. John's baseball team is off to a solid start this season, but their new head coach almost didn't get to see it.

It was a normal Thursday in February when Greg Christian stopped at the Urgent Care on Navarre Avenue on his way to dinner. The decision changed his life forever.

"I got in here and she asked me what was going on and I told her," Christian said. "And she checked my chest and first thing she said was, ‘Oh my gosh, you have a heart murmur.'"

What Christian thought was a normal sinus infection turned out to be much more. He soon received news he would have to undergo open heart surgery.

"A number of the strings to one of the leaflets had actually broken and the valve was not closing properly," explained Michael Morant, a cardiothoracic surgeon. "Essentially, when the heart contracted, a lot of blood was leaking back into his lungs, causing significant shortness of breath for him and fatigue. Eventually untreated, this could lead to his death."

With the news of immediate surgery, baseball was put on hold for this coach. Christian was suddenly battling to survive.

"Panic was when he went to the cardiologist," Christian's wife Jill said. "The cardiologist said, ‘Hospital, now.' And that's when I lost it. We've been together 38 years and I cannot imagine my life without him."

Christian said the doctors warned him of the risk with open heart surgery. He said it caused him to think a lot of his family.

"We stop the heart, we open the heart, we examine the valve. We see what we can do with it and then we repair it in what we term a complex manner," Morant said.

Now Christian is back to coaching, but he is constantly reminded of the heart problem that almost ended his life by the scar he wears every day on his chest.

"For everything to line up like it did, I do have a second chance," Christian said. "I'm happy for it. I'm gonna take advantage of it."

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