A Lifesaving Procedure Leads to a Longtime Friendship

November 2, 2023

David and Roxana wearing masks holding a box saying thank you

Ten years ago, now-64-year-old Darrel Duncan noticed an unfamiliar feeling in his chest while visiting his parents in Torrance. His brother drove him to a nearby hospital, where he was told they could either perform an angiogram to diagnose the issue or give him medication and schedule a follow-up appointment with a cardiologist.

“I chose the medication, which was a mistake in hindsight,” Duncan says. He consulted with his primary care physician to choose a cardiologist for his follow-up appointment and was recommended cardiac surgeon Andrew T. Ho, MD, FACC, at Temecula Valley Hospital. “I wanted somebody good,” Duncan says. “My doctor said, ‘If you're having a heart procedure, he’s the guy.’”

First Stent Procedure

Duncan scheduled an appointment with Dr. Ho, who quickly assured him that an angiogram was the best course of action. “After 15 minutes of talking to him, I had all the confidence in the world,” he says. Dr. Ho performed the angiogram and discovered that blood flow through Duncan’s coronary artery was 95% blocked. He recommended a stent procedure, something that had not yet been performed at TVH. “I wasn’t nervous at all,” Duncan recalls. “I figured somebody’s got to be the first.” 

The stent procedure was successful, and Duncan moved on to cardiac rehabilitation after a few days of rest. Despite not being a part of the cardiac rehab department, Dr. Ho remained very involved in Duncan’s recovery. “He monitored my condition very closely for a few months with echocardiograms,” he says. “I’ve had no issues related to that incident ever since.” 

Duncan and Dr. Ho have maintained a close relationship over the decade since his stent procedure. Duncan’s mother was taken to the hospital with her own health complications, and she became a patient of Dr. Ho as well. “He took time out of his day to visit us while she was in there. He would stop by during his rounds and give his opinion on her treatment options,” Duncan says. “It meant a lot to have his support at that time. He’s an incredible person, and I consider him a good friend.”

Second Stent Procedure

More recently, Duncan had another heart issue unrelated to his first. He was feeling shortness of breath, a hollow feeling in his chest, and pain in his left arm and jaw. Having learned from his previous heart issue, he wasted no time reaching out to Dr. Ho. They performed another angiogram and found a 90% blockage in his left anterior descending artery, the so-called “widowmaker.” “It was the same procedure as last time, and it went just as smooth,” Duncan says. “The whole team came in and took care of it in about an hour. The whole thing is like clockwork.”

Because of the exceptional care he and his mother received at TVH, Ducan has become a very big supporter of the hospital. “They’ve always taken care of me, and they took great care of her too. I’m happy with all the doctors and staff every time,” he says. “Any time someone in my family is sick, that’s where we’re going. There are closer hospitals to us, but I always go to TVH. I can’t say enough good things about it.”