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They Saved My Life Again and Again

If you’re looking for a recommendation about Deborah Heart and Lung Center, look no further than Toms River and Ralph Liloia. The Silver Ridge resident has had a triple bypass, ten stents, 12 catheterizations, and a pacemaker implanted, all within the last nine years at the Hospital. So he pretty much considers himself a local spokesperson for Deborah’s quality.

“Deborah has the best expertise and the best dedicated doctors and specialists, than at any other hospital I’ve ever gone to,” he raved.

Ralph knew he had a risky family medical history.

Ralph Liloia and Team
An integrated team of physicians and cardiac rehab specialists have provided seamless care for patient Ralph Liloia (center) over the many years that Ralph has been a patient at Deborah.

“My dad’s side of the family had a long history of cardiac problems and heart disease,” he said. “My mom was diabetic and a stroke victim.”

But Ralph had no personal health issues, and was active and working hard as a food and beverage director in casinos and hotels throughout the country. Originally from North Jersey, he relocated to the Toms River area in 1973.

Then out of the blue in 2013 when he was 59 years old he had a heart attack.

“I was at home with my family, and my significant other Mary, when I started to get hot and I had chest pains and pain all the way down my arm. We called 9-1-1,” he recalled. “My heart stopped. They took me to the local emergency department and got me going again. The doctor there told my family I needed to go to Deborah. It was real late at night, and they found three blockages. I had emergency triple bypass surgery. I am very thankful that they saved my life that night.”

From then on Ralph was a frequent patient at the hospital, receiving excellent follow-up care from his cardiologist Dr. Sena, who Ralph calls his “savior.” One year later he needed to have another stent. That led to a total of ten stents and 12 caths over the subsequent years.

Dr. Daniel Ice, my interventionalist, and Dr. Sena keep me alive.”

Ralph is meticulous about his follow-up care, and his multiple daily medications.

“I know heredity is one of the biggest things in heart disease,” he said. “I feel like my body just keeps growing clogged arteries.”

As part of his Deborah regimen, he has also been a cardiac rehab patient, and said that has made him feel “great”.

“This program here is ten times better than another rehab program I went to before. It is phenomenal.” In fact, Ralph was so impressed with cardiac rehab, that at the time we wrote a letter to the Hospital praising the entire team. “They have an outstanding approach towards one-on-one communication and a real personal touch, making you feel how interested and concerned they are with helping you to achieve your personal cardiac rehabilitation goals. The team has really helped my cardiac health condition.”

Ralph has also been under the care of Deborah electrophysiologist Dr. Raffaele Corbisiero since 2014, and he recently had a pacemaker implanted. Now “an ablation may be coming.”

Despite all this medical intervention, Ralph stays optimistic and active, walking as much as possible and sticking to the best diet he can. “I have diabetes also,” he said “but I try real hard. I’m Italian, though. I try.”

“Growing up I was no stranger to medical centers,” he remembers. “My father had his first heart surgery in Texas when I was 20 years old and later on at the Cleveland Clinic. I was there for him at each step.”

Ralph, who enjoys spending time involved with local activities, makes sure to put in a good word for Deborah whenever the topic comes up with his neighbors.

“I don’t usually have to say too much,” he said. “Most of my neighbors who have heart problems already come here, so they know. But I always like to say how thankful I am that Deborah ‘saved my life.’ And I also say how much I appreciate everyone doing what they can do to support Deborah and the good work done there.”

Deborah Heart and Lung Center in Browns Mills, NJ is an 89-bed teaching hospital that specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, research, and treatment of heart, lung, and vascular diseases. Founded in 1922, Deborah has been a regional and nationally recognized leader throughout its 100-year history, during which time it has healed 2.3 million patients from every corner of the United States and 87 countries in the world. From performing the first open heart surgeries (adult and pediatric) in New Jersey, to running one of the highest volume left-ventricular assist device (LVAD) implant programs in the region, Deborah has stood at the forefront of medical innovation, all while never wavering from its founding mission “there is no price on life.” Deborah is consistently recognized as a leader in patient care from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, ranked among the top hospitals in New Jersey for patient satisfaction; holds a top-tier Society of Thoracic Surgeons rating which places Deborah among the best cardiac surgery programs in the country; and is designated a national Top Teaching Hospital by The Leapfrog Group. Deborah is an Alliance member of the Cleveland Clinic Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute. 




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