— SEBRING, Fla. -- “They said if I waited another day, I would have been dead.”
That is what Pastor Rodney McFadden of the Avon Park Seventh Day Adventist Church, said doctors at AdventHealth Sebring told him when he had a life-threatening heart issue, late last year.
But he said by the grace of God and the quick action and excellent care he received through the hospital and staff at AdventHealth Sebring, he was able to recover, and continue his critical work, which includes serving as the church’s youth and young adult pastor.
“If it wasn't for the team, working together, I would not be here today,” McFadden said.
The then 43-year-old McFadden said it all started when he went to the dentist for a routine check, but they would not see him because his blood pressure was too high, and he was told he needed to see a doctor.
That afternoon, he met with his friend, Jason Dunkel, an elder of the Avon Park Seventh Day Adventist Church and president and CEO of AdventHealth Sebring.
He said Dunkel helped him get in to see cardiologist, Dr. Deepti Bhandare, who would not let him leave her office, because of how high his blood pressure was.
“Pastor Rodney is a healthy person but had underlying health conditions that could have caused a much more serious outcome if he hadn't come straight to the AdventHealth Sebring ER for care,” said Dr. Deepti Bhandare, Vice Chair of the hospital’s Cardiology Department.
From there, McFadden said they called his wife and put him in an ambulance to go to the hospital.
“They immediately put me in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) and just told me, my blood pressure was so high that I should have died,” McFadden said.
He underwent a procedure that found he had a 90 percent blockage in one of the arteries in his heart. The doctors put a stent in to restore the blood flow and save his life.
McFadden said before the surgery he was very nervous, because he had never had a major surgery before. But he says the support he received, including a special moment with his friend, Jason Dunkel, before the surgery helped put him at ease.
“He prayed with me, and he started to sing, because I love hymns and I usually sing all the time. He knows that. He came in and sung my favorite hymn, (Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus) and it just calmed me down and let me know that everything was going to be ok,” McFadden said.
He said Dunkel helped oversee every step of his care and that he had a stream of nurses, doctors, and staff members who were members of his church, checking in on him daily.
“It was like a whole hospital praying for me at one time, you just felt the love,” McFadden said.
Throughout the process, he credited the medical team for their care, support, and constant communication.
“I’m happy that I am alive. Not only did they save my life, they were communicating with me and my family, through every step of the way. I knew everything that was about to happen,” McFadden said. “You got everybody praying for you and comforting you, letting you know that they’re going to do their best.”
Now, as he continues to recover, McFadden volunteers at the hospital as a patient advocate, where he meets with and prays with patients.
McFadden has been married for more than 18 years to his wife, Denys. They have two children, a 12-year-old daughter, Journee, and 9-year-old son, Carter.
“February is National Heart Health Awareness Month, and knowing your numbers is a big part of heart health! It's important to know your blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugar levels,” Dr. Bhandare said.
AdventHealth offers an abundance of resources to help care for you and your cardiovascular system, so you can keep putting your whole heart into everything you do. You can find more information at https:// www.adventhealth.com/heart-and-vascular-care