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Tim Kuebel

Tim Kuebel

Hard work never bothered Tim Kuebel — it was breathing that he found difficult.

Tim, a blacksmith by trade, spent 25 years shoeing horses. He was known for his speed and skill, but in 2009 the heavy labor caught up with him and he had to undergo arthroscopic surgery on one of his knees. Three weeks later, he had a minor stroke, and his doctor referred him to Dr. Kelley J. Parnell, a Reid Hospital neurologist, for follow-up care. While listening to his heart, Dr. Parnell noticed something no other doctor had: a murmur. “I think you have a hole in your heart,” she told Tim.

It all made sense. For as long as he could remember, Tim had struggled to breathe, even when he wasn’t exerting himself. A hole in his heart could account for the fact that he didn’t sleep well and that he sweated profusely no matter what the weather. Dr. Parnell said the defect (which had been present from birth) could even have triggered his stroke.

Testing at Reid Hospital confirmed that Tim had an atrial septal defect, or a hole between the upper two chambers of his heart. He met with Dr. Zulfiqar A. Mirza, an interventional cardiologist at Reid, who explained that repairing the hole would involve implanting a device called the Amplatzer® septal occluder. This expandable double disk is made from wire mesh and polyester fabric and works as a plug to close the hole. The minimally invasive procedure is performed in the hospital’s cardiac catheterization lab and is an alternative to open heart surgery.

Dr. Mirza implanted Tim’s Amplatzer device in September 2010 and Tim says he could tell a difference in his breathing immediately. “I feel better today than I ever have,” says the 52-year-old Connersville resident. “I’ve lost 40 pounds, I’m sleeping like a baby every night and I can be a lot more active. It’s the difference between riding a bike uphill your whole life and breezing down the other side.”

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