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As we prepare to watch the Opening Ceremonies of the Winter Olympic Games next month in Sochi, Russia, The Valley Hospital is proud to present the incredible story of a former Olympic athlete whose bypass surgery more than 20 years ago has withstood the test of time thanks to the skills of the surgeon â€” Alex Zapolanski, M.D., Director of Cardiac Surgery at Valley
Russian swimmer Semyon Belits-Geiman, competed in the 1964 and 1968 Summer Olympics, winning two medals. Following his Olympic victories, Semyon went on to be a coach, trainer, and sportswriter.
In 1990, while visiting San Francisco for a swimming event, Semyon began experiencing symptoms of a heart attack. He went to a nearby hospital where he was told he required cardiac surgery immediately. Dr. Zapolanski, who at that time was practicing in San Francisco, performed an advanced coronary bypass surgery on Semyon, who underwent a total of five bypasses that day.
More than 20 years after his surgery, Semyon remains very active, swims every day, and has never had another cardiac incident since his surgery.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons