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Rare Heart Condition Successfully Treated at Good Samaritan Hospital

March 11th, 2014

An aortic dissection is a serious condition in which a tear develops in the inner layer of the aorta, a large artery that exits the heart and delivers blood to the body. Blood surges through this tear into the middle layer of the aorta, causing the inner and middle layers to separate (dissect). If the blood-filled channel ruptures through the outside aortic wall, aortic dissection is often fatal.

New Jersey resident Stephen DelMonico is a very lucky man to be alive since surviving an acute aortic dissection on February 18 while separated from his family at work in Deer Park. He almost did not see his 58th birthday on March 13, but fortunately for him he got to Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center soon after experiencing a ripping pain through his chest, a symptom of aortic dissection. The symptoms usually begin suddenly, and include severe chest pain. The pain may feel like a heart attack, and may mimic those of less severe diseases, often leading to delays in diagnosis. However, when an aortic dissection is detected early and treated promptly, your chance of survival greatly improves. Fortunately, Mr. DelMonico recognized these signs and got to Good Sam immediately.

On February 18, Mr. DelMonico left work early and returned to his motel room in Babylon where he stays two days a week to cut down on commuting from his home in Pompton Lakes, two hours away. Within an hour he was in extreme pain asking for ambulance assistance. Once at Good Samaritan his condition was assessed as extremely critical and he was too high a risk to be transferred to St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn.

“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.”

Still early in the St. Francis Open Heart Surgery Program at Good Samaritan Hospital, Christopher LaMendola, MD, was confronted with one of the most difficult cases in heart surgery. This type of procedure is one that is planned months into a program’s inception. Having successfully completed such a complicated case stands as a tribute to the level of expertise Good Samaritan’s open heart surgical team possess.

“I have seen less than 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. LaMendola. “Presented with one of the most difficult dissection cases everyone on the team at Good Samaritan brought forth their unique cardiac surgical abilities in sustaining life.”

Luckily for Mr. DelMonico he was not the one out of four who didn’t survive after surgery. Just four weeks after his surgery to repair the tear in his aorta Mr. DelMonico was released from the hospital and will be undergoing intensive inpatient rehabilitation in a facility in New Jersey closer to his home and family.

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