Meet Guillermo ‘Iron Man’ Munro

By The Health News Team | February 27, 2020
Meet Guillermo ‘Iron Man’ Munro

Artist and author Guillermo Munro received a life-extending mechanical heart pump at Sharp Memorial Hospital.

In 2015, artist and author Guillermo Munro was vacationing in Puerto Peñasco, Sonora, Mexico, with his family when he fell ill with what was initially thought to be heatstroke. His family encouraged him to go to the local hospital, where he learned that he had just experienced a heart attack.

The doctors recommended surgery and placed stents — tiny wire mesh tubes — in his arteries to open up blood flow to his heart to reduce his risk of a future heart attack. Guillermo was discharged from the hospital and, while recovering, experienced a series of heart attacks significantly stronger than the first. With his heart failing, Guillermo’s family knew they needed to find a way to get him back to the United States for care.

A medical evacuation and a sobering diagnosis
Guillermo’s son-in-law contacted Sharp HealthCare’s Global Patient Services program, and they facilitated his travel back to the U.S., where he was then transported to Sharp Memorial Hospital.

“My dad’s life was saved the day he was transferred out of Mexico and into Sharp Memorial,” says Guillermo’s daughter. “It was clear that he would not have survived much longer where he was.”

Dr. Hirsch Mehta, a board-certified cardiologist affiliated with Sharp Memorial Hospital and Sharp Community Medical Group, informed Guillermo that his heart was functioning at 18% capacity. With his current condition, he only had six months to live.

A longer life with an LVAD
Guillermo faced a choice: enjoy what time remained with his family or have open-heart surgery for the placement of a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) — a mechanical heart pump. He opted for the LVAD, and the hope of a longer life than what his own heart could provide.

“I was never afraid when I arrived for my surgery,” Guillermo says. “I was at peace and had faith in God, the doctors and my medical team.”

Dr. Robert Adamson, a board-certified cardiothoracic surgeon affiliated with Sharp Memorial and Sharp Community Medical Group, performed the LVAD procedure, which was successful but included a long recovery. Guillermo had to learn how to walk, sleep and shower with the LVAD device.

During his recovery, Guillermo benefited from the constant support of his family, his medical team and Katy, his wife of 54 years, who never left his side. Due in part to his positive outlook, his support system and the care he received at Sharp Memorial, Guillermo will celebrate five years of his new life with an LVAD in September 2020.

“I value life in such a different way. I don’t take anything for granted anymore, and I find joy in living,” Guillermo says. “I get so much joy when I come back to the hospital and see my team. My doctors tell me that I am one of their best LVAD patients because I keep myself busy.”

Celebrating the gift of life — and a new identity
Guillermo recently visited Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico, for the premiere of the film Sonora, based on his novels El Camino del Diablo and Ruta de los Caídos. He returned to his writing, painting and reading, and is currently working on a chronicle, which will include stories his father shared with him before he passed away.

“I am thankful for my family, the incredible LVAD team, staff and doctors at Sharp Memorial Hospital,” he says. “My grandson gave me the nickname ‘Iron Man Munro’ because he thinks my LVAD makes me a superhero.”

“During my recovery, one of my grandsons was born, and just last year, one of my biggest dreams came true when I watched a book I wrote turn into a script, and then made into a fantastic film,” he says. “I wouldn’t have been able to experience any of that if I didn’t have this second chance at life.”

Learn more about personalized cardiac care, advanced heart treatment options and world-class expertise at Sharp Memorial Hospital.

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