Kay Garcia McAnally and her husband, Conor, have been married 30 years. They’re avid travelers and go to Europe twice a year where they have a second home in Ireland. So when Kay was sidelined due to her serious condition — an elevated diaphragm — they were both devastated.

An elevated diaphragm occurs when one half of the diaphragm is paralyzed. The diaphragm is the most important muscle during inspiration. When it contracts the abdominal contents are forced downward and forward increasing the size of the chest cavity and allowing more air into the lungs. When paralyzed, however, the diaphragm will move upwards compressing the lung and consequently decreasing the amount of air in each breath, which cause shortness of breath. The causes for diaphragm paralysis in adults are multiple, but most commonly it is secondary to trauma, surgery, tumors or, in. many instances, it is unknown (i.e. idiopathic).

She started to feel extremely hopeless and depressed as her condition worsened. Kay had to stop sightseeing with her friends and family, and at the lowest point, she lost 2/3 of the lung capacity in her right lung. She could barely walk across the room.

During the initial meeting to discuss her condition with CTVS’ board-certified thoracic surgeon, Dr. Daniel Fortes, Kay said that once her breathing was restored properly, her ultimate goal would be to walk the one-mile trail again near their home in Ireland with her husband and grandchildren.

Dr. Fortes performed  Kay’s surgery on February 20th using a procedure known as diaphragmatic plication. Diaphragmatic plication involves reshaping, or flattening, the dome of the diaphragm in an attempt to recreate its normal positioning and improve breathing.

The surgery was successful, and Dr. Fortes, Kay, and Conor are all three very optimistic about her future.

“How do I thank someone for giving me my life back?” asks Kay towards Dr. Fortes. “There are no words that can express my admiration for his knowledge and medical skills or my gratitude for the compassion and kindness that he showed.”

Kay shares, “I am delighted to tell you that exactly three months later, at 8 a.m. on the 20th of May, I started my one-mile walk. Although the [COVID-19] pandemic prevented us from returning to Ireland for the summer, I have achieved my one-mile goal.”

Conor is equally as ecstatic about his wife’s recovery and prognosis.  “The difference in my wife is extraordinary — both physically and mentally. She is no longer the woman who lost all hope. What Dr. Fortes did was truly a miracle.”

Thank you, Dr. Fortes, for working your magic and getting these two back on track to soon travel again and do what they love most!

For questions about any of our vascular, thoracic, or cardiac services, please visit ctvstexas.com or call us at (512) 459-8753 to schedule an appointment.

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter and check our blog for regular updates.