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Beating the Odds, Aortic Dissection Patient’s Life Saved at Good Samaritan Hospital

March 12th, 2014

All birthdays are special, but Stephen DelMonico’s 58th birthday on March 13 is especially meaningful. That’s because he almost didn’t live to see it. On February 18, Mr. DelMonico suffered an aortic dissection, in which a tear develops in the inner layer of the aorta, a large artery that delivers blood from the heart to the body. A sudden and catastrophic medical emergency, aortic dissection is often fatal. Fortunately, the recently launched St. Francis Open Heart Surgery Program at Good Samaritan Hospital had in place an expert cardiothoracic surgical team from St. Francis on-site at Good Sam. Within moments the team was mobilized to perform life-saving surgery on Mr. DelMonico.

A New Jersey resident, Mr. DelMonico spends two nights per week at a Babylon motel to cut down on commuting to his Deer Park job. On February 18, while in his motel room, Mr. DelMonico experienced severe chest pain. An ambulance brought him to Good Samaritan where his condition was assessed as extremely critical.

That night, Chairman of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Director of the St. Francis Open Heart Surgery Program at Good Samaritan Christopher La Mendola, MD, was confronted with one of the most challenging cases in cardiothoracic surgery.

“I have seen about 50 aortic dissection cases out of more than 5,000 open heart surgeries I performed during a 20 year career at St. Francis,” said Dr. La Mendola. “Presented with one of the most difficult dissection cases I’ve ever seen, I am very proud that everyone on the team at Good Samaritan used their incredible skills and experience to save Steve’s life.”

So serious is aortic dissection, the condition that killed actor John Ritter that many of its victims die before reaching the hospital and about 25 percent that do reach the hospital do not survive surgery. Just four weeks after the operation to repair the tear in his aorta, Mr. DelMonico was transferred from Good Samaritan to an intensive inpatient rehabilitation facility in New Jersey to continue his recovery closer to his home and family.

“My doctors rebuilt me. I was going to die,” said Mr. DelMonico. “I believe if I had not been on Long Island I would not have survived.”

Dawn DelMonico was at her husband Stephen’s bedside for the past month.

For more information on the open heart surgery program at Good Samaritan, please visit or call (631) 376-4444.


Colleen Valdini
Manager, Public and External Affairs
(631) 376-4483