I want to thank all of my friends and their friends for your prayers during my recent critical surgery in Florida. I know I was on many of the local churches’ prayer list as well as many individual ones in several states. I had three of my family members with long lists of names that were concerned about this as I have always been a hard worker all my life.

Recently I was diagnosed by Dr. Ukpong as having a serious problem with my heart’s aortic valve not functioning as it was designed to do. Since this procedure could not be performed in Moultrie I went to two cardiovascular surgeons in Fleming Island, Florida. I was processed through many scheduled test, X-rays, CT's and a lot of other tests to evaluate me to see if I could withstand the surgery or not.

Once all these tests and evaluations were completed and it was determined that I was a good candidate for the procedure, I was set up for a counseling session. During this session the lead doctors, Doctor Youssef Al Saghir and Doctor Robert Still told me of the risk due to my previous open heart surgery and my age. Both told me that it was a very serious procedure and that there were no guarantees. However, I told them that I didn't believe that there was ever a guarantee on any surgery. The doctors then hit me with the sad news about the procedure costing $200,000 and that the replacement valve was $35,000 of that cost. Next eye opener was that this procedure was not ADA approved so my insurance would not pay for this procedure, Medicare or Tri Care for Life, my retired military insurance.

This is when my angel, Mrs. Lisa Sterns, came into the situation. She petitioned to the hospital board for help with my situation. After lots of discussion and persuasion, they agreed to do my surgery for free. The Lord had taken over this situation and I thanked Him for that.

I had the aortic valve replaced utilizing the technique of both groin arteries as the means of having the valve transported by the way of a large stent through one of them.

I am a firm believer that our Lord works miracles in many ways and this was one of them. I am in constant connection with many of my relatives and many friends in and around Colquitt County daily wanting to hear of my progress. I am doing great as both doctors estimated my hospital stay as five to six days but I was dismissed on the second day. None of the staff could believe that I had done so well but gave me a great send off. I can do nothing but sit and wait for the valve to seat and grow in place. I cannot drive, stoop, pick up anything nor do much of anything but wait.

I wish to give a shout out to all of the ones that have supported me in any way. Appreciate the prayers, cards, e-mails to my daughter and the calls on my behalf. Especially my Class of 1951 who has been on the phone a lot. Remember, Prayer does work and there is no doubt in my mind.

Homer (Buddy) Eldridge

Fleming Island, Fla.

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