Frank Hetrick

Patient Success Stories

Frank Hetrick, 78, of Annapolis, MD was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension at a local hospital.  After his diagnosis, his cardiologist told him he only had six months to live. With the help of his daughter, Hetrick was referred to Dr. Myung Park, a cardiologist and pulmonary hypertension expert at the University of Maryland Medical Center. Much to Hetrick's surprise, Dr. Park reassured him that he was not going to die in six months, and put him on a successful course of medical treatment. Read his story below.

My name is Frank Hetrick. I was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension. Everything happened suddenly. Although I experienced shortness of breath, my main symptom was swelling, which was caused by excess fluid. Within one week, I had gained 18 pounds of fluid!

These symptoms affected my life in a very detrimental way. At the time I was diagnosed, I was working for Habitat for Humanity. However, once the swelling started, I couldn't do that anymore. I also like to do volunteer work at a mission in Annapolis, but it became too hard to do with the extra fluid.

I went to the Washington Hospital Center where they ran some tests. After they diagnosed me with pulmonary hypertension, I went to my cardiologist who had been treating me for high blood pressure. He said I only had six months to live, and that there were no viable treatment options.

After that my daughter, who was visiting me from Texas, asked one of the doctors at the Washington Hospital Center if there were any doctors in the area who could treat this condition. He told her there were doctors in Maryland who treated this condition, and that this was not a lost cause. She asked him who he would send me to, and he recommended Dr. Myung Park at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

We called Dr. Park's office and made an appointment. She told me that I had to have more tests performed, but said “You're not going to die in six months. I'm going to take care of you.” That made my day; she's phenomenal!

Dr. Park's  tests confirmed that I had pulmonary hypertension. 

It took some time, but gradually the swelling decreased. I still have some excess fluid, but I only have to visit the Medical Center every four to five months for parethensis, a procedure that allows my doctor to draw fluid out with a needle.There's not nearly as much fluid drawn now as there was when I first came to UMMC.  Sometimes, I don't even have to get fluid drawn; they can look at me with a sonogram instead. Best of all, I can stay active now that my swelling is under control.

The treatments helped me tremendously. I have a life now, and I don't need oxygen. I have a daughter in Florida, a son in Alaska and a daughter in Texas. Now, I can travel to visit all of them. I can also take my grandkids around the world. Last year, we went to Europe. I have 16 grandchildren, and I've travelled with 12 so far. I'm feeling much better. The swelling has gone down, I don't have any shortness of breath and I can carry on as normal.

I'm very pleased with the care I received at the Medical Center. The nurses and doctors are very good. I've been treated here several times, and have been in the hospital four times since this diagnosis.

I think the world of Dr. Park. She saved my life! She's very professional. The rapport she has with patients and her staff is excellent; she communicates very well with them. During my treatment, she told me exactly what I needed to do.

About a year ago, I switched to Dr. Gautam Ramani. I was having shortness of breath and he helped a lot with that. We like him too, and he's continuing same treatment and refining it as we go along. I know that my health is in good hands with him.

This page was last updated: September 18, 2014

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