Doctor's office
Enter your doctor's name to get office information.
Find labs in your network
Enter your primary care doctor's name to find labs in your network.
Find urgent care centers in your network
Enter your primary care doctor's name to find urgent care centers in your network.
Verify your medical group

Refer to your insurance card or call your insurance provider to determine your medical group.

You can also search for your primary care doctor to find the medical group you and your doctor belong to.

Driving Directions
Update Information
Forgot Password

Please enter your e-mail address.

Sharp Health News

A winding road to a healthier heart

June 1, 2021

Jeff Naemi was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 15. It took him decades to learn to manage his health.

Jeff Naemi was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 15. It took him decades to learn to manage his health.

Jeff Naemi likes to talk about his problems with a positive attitude. Before becoming disabled, he worked at grocery stores and gas stations, all while managing diabetes. Jeff was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 15. Now, at 47 years old, he defines his health as “mostly good, sometimes bad.”

At 28, he completely lost his eyesight, but regained it in one eye after starting dialysis. In 2013, he had a kidney and pancreas transplant. His most recent medical hurdle was in May 2020 when a diabetic ulcer on his left heel became infected. It would lead to a below-the-knee amputation and heart infection.

“Patients like Jeff, who’ve had an organ transplant, need to take medications to suppress their immune system so that their body does not reject the transplanted organ,” says Dr. Genaro F. Fernandez, an interventional cardiovascular specialist affiliated with Sharp Grossmont Hospital’s Burr Heart & Vascular Center. “Because of this, such patients are also more prone to infection since their immune system isn’t able to fully function. In this case, the infection from Jeff’s foot had entered his bloodstream and settled in his heart.”

Doctors administered antibiotic treatment to try to clear the bacterial infection in the mitral valve of his heart (endocarditis). But the medications were unsuccessful.

“At that point, the infection had eroded the leaflets and rings of the mitral valve,” says Dr. Alexandra Kharazi, a cardiovascular surgeon also affiliated with Sharp Grossmont Hospital’s Burr Heart & Vascular Center. “We needed to do surgery to replace his mitral valve. That was the only way to get rid of the infection. This would be a risky surgery because he was at high risk for serious complications due to his many other health issues.”

In addition to endocarditis, diabetes, amputation, blindness and organ transplant, Jeff also had coronary artery disease and mitral valve regurgitation, also known as a leaky heart valve.

“Replacing his mitral valve would resolve the infection and regurgitation. We also performed coronary bypass grafting to address his coronary artery disease,” adds Dr. Kharazi.

Along with his cardiologists, it took a multidisciplinary team, including his nephrologist, Dr. Lucy Miller, to prepare Jeff for the open-heart operation to ensure that his body could handle the surgery.

A healthy outlook
Jeff had surgery in July, and recalls the wonderful care he received.

“I appreciate that Dr. Kharazi and Dr. Fernandez kept checking on me. They were checking me every day. There was not a day that I was in the hospital that they missed. They even updated my family, who was really happy with them.”

Jeff remained in a skilled nursing facility for nearly 7 months before he was well enough to return home.

“I finally went home on December 1,” recalls Jeff. “That was my first time having a heart issue. Now I check my blood pressure and blood sugar daily. I have good results and a great heart.”

In terms of Jeff’s other health challenges, he continues dialysis 3 times a week due to his original and transplanted kidneys failing. But he no longer has diabetes, and has adopted a healthier lifestyle.

“I watch my diet,” says Jeff. “I stay away from fried food and portion out what I can have during the day — salt, potassium and so on. I have become more aware of my body and health, and am in control of it.”

Jeff reflects on what he has gone through since his health challenges began in 1989.

“I was not compliant with my diabetic diet. And now, with all the problems I went through, I no longer have diabetes and I watch everything I do,” says Jeff. “Now I am a more positive person. My heart was saved, I learned how to walk again, there was so much I overcame. When I went home last December, Dr. Kharazi and Pristine Care at Home continued to care for me so that I could be well again,” says Jeff.

Jeff plans to start working soon, hopes to find a new kidney donor, and would like to use his experience to motivate others.

“No matter how good or bad things are, there’s always someone in a worse situation,” says Jeff. I want to help others with similar challenges. I want to teach them to love themselves and have faith in themselves no matter the situation.”

You might also like:

Choose the doctor who's right for you.

At Sharp, we make it easy to find an exceptional doctor — right where you live and work.

All Categories
Contact Sharp HealthCare
Call us

Call 1-800-827-4277 or view our detailed phone directory.

For medical or psychiatric emergencies, call 911 immediately.

Email us

Please do not use this form to convey personal or medical information.

How would you like to be contacted?
Date of birth

What's This?

These important numbers are located on your billing statement.

Find your Sharp Rees-Stealy account number

Find your SharpCare account number

Find your SharpCare account number
What's GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) governs the processing of personal information gathered from individuals while they are in the European Union (EU) and parts of the EEA (European Economic Area, which currently includes Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway).

We are sorry, but we are unable to process your price estimate if you live or are travelling within the EU or affiliated nations.

What's This?

Many surgery and procedure names sound similar. If possible, please provide the current procedure terminology (CPT) code, which can be found on the order from your doctor.

If you cannot provide the CPT code, please contact your doctor's office for the CPT or a detailed description of services.