Wendy Rash, a self-described “go-getter,” is no stranger to heart surgery. The Lewisville, North Carolina, resident first experienced heart issues in her mid-20s and got her first pacemaker at 31.

Now in her late 40s and on her third pacemaker, she has trusted her heart care to Wake Forest Baptist Health for more than 20 years. She has worked with the health system since the early 1990s, first as a nursing assistant and later as a flight nurse on the AirCare helicopter crew for about 20 years. She’s now a nurse practitioner in interventional radiology and still works a weekend shift once a month with AirCare. 

When she was diagnosed in 2018 with a heart valve that needed repair, she chose to have minimally invasive open-heart surgery, which was performed by Drs. Ted Kincaid, Tony Simmons and Sean Whalen.

“I knew the Heart and Vascular Center was well-established and worked to build excellent relationships with their patients, and I knew the doctors would put my best interests first,” Rash says. 

“Mostly because of my activity level and the things that I do—lifting, chasing after my two dogs—I felt like I would have a better recovery path with minimally invasive surgery.”

Her surgery was a success, and her follow-up treatment, from intensive care to the cardiac floor and through cardiac rehabilitation, exceeded her expectations.

“They were compassionate and understanding, yet pushed me to get up and out of bed when I didn’t think I could,” she says. “They have been amazing every step of the way. I owe them everything!” 

Two and a half weeks after surgery, she was back at work, feeling “100 percent better,” with no symptoms, a higher energy level, increased endurance and no limitations.

“I wish I had done it sooner,” she says. “You don’t realize how bad you feel until you feel a whole lot better.”