“Dr. Cooper was on call that night. He wasn’t even supposed to be here, but he decided to take one more call, and it was me,” Fielding said.
Fielding was transferred to Kennestone Hospital from Northside Cherokee Hospital in order to undergo surgery. Her coronary bypass surgery is just one example of the many successful operations Kennestone performs every year.
WellStar Health System surgeons performed 350 cardiac bypass surgeries in fiscal 2014, up from the 240 performed the year before, said WellStar spokeswoman Christy Rosell.
The hospital was ranked highest in Georgia by Consumer Reports magazine in August for coronary bypass surgery. Consumer Reports used data from more than 1,000 hospitals submitted to the Society of Thoracic Surgeons to compile its list.
WellStar is the largest not-for-profit health system in Georgia and serves a population of more than 1.4 million residents in five counties.
“WellStar Kennestone Hospital is known as a top hospital for cardiac care,” said Cooper, WellStar’s medical director of cardiovascular surgery.
“The data shows that Kennestone has had wonderful successes in heart surgery. We have an excellent team of physicians that are pioneering innovative procedures and delivering world-class care.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 720,000 Americans have a heart attack each year,
When Cooper and Fielding saw each other Monday, they began catching up like old friends. Fielding told her doctor she planned on helping her daughter move into her college dorm Wednesday.
“Is it that time already?” Cooper asked. “Well, how have you been?”
Fielding, a Stockbridge resident, said everyone she interacted with at Kennestone, from her surgeon to the nurses who took care of her for the three weeks she stayed at the hospital, have become family to her now.
Fielding said she thinks her heart attack on Nov. 3, 2007, at the age of 37 was brought on by stress and her father’s death the month prior.
“I was daddy’s little girl, and that literally broke my heart,” she said.
Three days after her father’s funeral, Fielding was donating his old clothing at Goodwill in Cherokee County when she had a heart attack and collapsed, spurring her trip to the hospital and heart surgery.
“Before this happened, I was healthy, but I just didn’t feel good,” Fielding said. “One doctor even told me, ‘It’s just being a mom.’ Because by 5 p.m. every day I was just exhausted.”
That day, an artery had become completely blocked, which stopped blood flowing to her heart, she said. The surgery to save her life, which lasted five hours, dissected the artery to allow blood to flow to the heart again.
“Halfway through the surgery, they told my husband to make funeral arrangements,” Fielding said.
She said her family asked God for help while waiting to hear about the mother of two.
Jordan Fielding, Donna Fielding’s 18-year-old daughter, a freshman at the University of Tennessee, said she was in shock when she heard how serious her mother’s condition was.
“I just remember thinking, ‘What am I going to do?’ We prayed, and we just kept her in our prayers while she was in surgery,” Jordan Fielding said.
Fielding was in a coma for four days after the surgery. After the operation was complete, doctors warned her family that she might not live through the night.
Fielding said much of what happened to her during her bout of health problems was a miracle that she could have only survived with her faith in God.
“That situation brought everything into perspective, and I think some of that was God’s plan,” Fielding said.
From the moment she awoke from the coma after the surgery, Fielding said she has had a new plan for life.
“Before this I was such a Type A personality,” Fielding said.
After working at Lockheed Martin for eight years, she left in 1998 to raise her children. While she was a homemaker, Fielding likened herself to a drill sergeant.
She said beds were made every day before school, the kitchen sink was empty and the floors were spotless.
While her husband, Kevin Fielding, who owns the truck brokerage business Kellytown Transportation in Stockbridge, was at work and her two children, Jordan and Chandler, 16, were in school at Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy, she would make sure everything was perfect by 5 p.m.
“I was trying to be super mom and get it all done,” Fielding said. “I was my own worst enemy.”
Fielding said her life was so stressful that she didn’t take time to enjoy it. After her heart attack, the family’s view of their mom has changed.
“I don’t take her for granted anymore. I used to, you know,” Jordan said. “It made me realize I needed to grow up faster and be more thankful for people and not take them for granted.”
Lying in the hospital bed after the surgery, Fielding said she could feel the change in her perspective on life as soon as she saw her family.
“The thing that I thought of when I woke up was love,” Fielding said. “I had the love of my husband, the love of my family and the love of this hospital.”
Now, the family motto is “we’re not here for a long time, we’re here for a good time,” Fielding said.
Nearly seven years after the surgery, Fielding said she feels completely recovered. She said her heart is functioning normally, and she has cut much of the stress out of her life.
“You’ve got to know your limitations. As long as I take care of myself and exercise, I don’t really feel any different,” Fielding said.
Fielding calls her survival a part of God’s plan, and now she enjoys sharing the story of her heart attack and how it helped her family with customers at Moye’s Pharmacy in Stockbridge, where she works as a cashier.
“Every time I hear an ambulance, I stop and say a prayer for whoever is on that because I was one of those people taking that 90 mile an hour ride,” Fielding said.