“I realized there was really no alternative, if I wanted to live, I had to do this,” President Bill Clinton
“I would find myself busting into tears and sobbing uncontrollably,” David Letterman
“…Stop the heart, work on it, restart it… good luck,” Robin Williams
“They’re going to put him on a gurney, roll him into the OR room and bust him open like a lobster!,” Regis Philbin
“It was hell,” Charlie Rose
“I probably would have had a heart attack and may very well have died,” Barbara Walters
What do Barbara Walters, President Bill Clinton, David Letterman, Regis Philbin, Robin Williams and Charlie Rose all have in common? They all went from being in the spotlight to being in the operating room for life-and-death open heart surgery. Now in a groundbreaking report, the “brotherhood of the cracked chest club” (as Robin Williams describes them) all open their hearts to Walters and reveal their emotional stories of how they triumphed over heart disease. Each account is an intimate portrait of these most public figures, infused with laughter and tears. Walters also takes viewers on an unprecedented behind-the-scenes journey of her own battle from discovery of a faulty heart valve to the operating table and recovery. In addition, she talks to doctors, including her own, about what viewers, especially women, need to know to save themselves and their loved ones. “A Barbara Walters Special: A Matter of Life and Death” airs Friday, February 4 at 10 pm ET/PT on ABC.
Even though a half a million Americans annually will have their chests cracked open and their hearts literally stopped and repaired, open heart surgery remains shrouded in fear and mystery. As Walters says, “It’s no big deal… just a matter of life and death.”
Many Americans are ticking time bombs and they don’t even know it. Heart disease is America’s No. 1 killer – half of us will die from it, and it doesn’t discriminate. “It’s astounding that people think that heart disease is a disease of men, when in fact, it kills more women,” says Dr. Kathy Magliato, one of the few female heart surgeons in the world. But women do not have the same symptoms as men, and this report describes the difference.
“Take advantage of the technology and the care that’s available. There’s no reason why a man or woman in this day and age should unexpectedly drop dead of a heart attack,” says Letterman.