Heart patient runs ‘Green Monster’ after surgery

Heart patient runs ‘Green Monster’ after surgery
After undergoing a heart ablation, Donald Edwards ran his fourth Gate River Run March 10.

Donald Edwards, a Fairfax Manor resident since October 2013, is a little bit chagrinned about his time running the 2018 Gate River Run. He ran the 15K in 1:40:52, placing 3,527 out of 5,752 men and said it wasn’t his best time by far, but he can be excused.

In December 2017, Edwards underwent a catheter ablation to correct atrial fibrillation (AFib), the most common heart arrhythmia and a leading cause of stroke.

Yet, less than 12 weeks after the procedure by Dr. Saumil Oza, chief of cardiology at St. Vincent’s Riverside and co-director of its Atrial Fibrillation Institute, Edwards donned his runner’s bib and running shoes March 10 to run 9.32 miles around the Northbank, San Marco, and St. Nicholas.

“It was an ongoing exercise in lowering expectations,” he said, laughing about his final time. “But the run is very fun, really, really well-organized; I’ve never been to a run where it’s so easy to register and get your packet. It’s a crowded race, but that’s part of the atmosphere.”

Edwards said he started to slow down last year when he was hit with fatigue and heart palpitations. After he was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation (AFib), he was given the choice to stay on medicine indefinitely to control his AFib, but Oza suggested a catheter ablation — a minimally invasive procedure in which a series of catheters destroy abnormal heart tissue causing the patient’s AFib.

“The procedure is not very disruptive to your life,” he said. “You have to take a week off for the procedure. People shouldn’t be too freaked out about AFib and not want to get it checked out. Now I feel better when I run and just in general.”

Edwards grew up in Southern California and started running as a sophomore in high school, but left the cross-country team after one year to focus on playing the cello in local symphonies. He moved to Anchorage, Alaska after college, met his wife there, raised a family and then, on a business trip to Fernandina Beach, started looking at real estate here.

“This is about as big a change as you can get from Anchorage,” said Edwards, a “mostly retired” attorney who still does work for an energy/utility client in Alaska.

The 64-year-old has always made exercising a priority and has participated in multiple marathons and triathlons over the years. Now Edwards said his perfect week is taking a spin class and spending 1.5 hours on a stationary bicycle on Mondays and Wednesdays, running for 1.5 hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays, swimming on Fridays, then capping his week with an outdoor bicycle ride for a couple of hours. “I take Sundays off,” he said.


By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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