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Thanks To Bypass Surgery at Yale New Haven, Patient Is Back in the Lyon’s Den

Danny Lyons during Nurse's Week
Danny Lyons delivered plants and flowers to nurses during Nurses Week,.

Danny Lyons is a Connecticut legend – although people might not recognize him if they saw him on the street. It’s his voice most people know, from his longtime show, “The Lyons Den” on WEBE 108. Lyons – whose real last name is Mangini – has been on the station for more than 36 years, but he recently took an eight-week break.

In May, the Hamden resident was experiencing shortness of breath and some chest tightness. His cardiologist, Ricardo Cordido, MD, referred him for tests. Mangini “passed” them all, so Dr. Cordido referred him for coronary catheterization to see if he had blocked blood vessels.

“I thought that if I had any blockage, I would need to have a stent placed,” Mangini said. “I told my boss, ‘I’ll be back to work tomorrow.’”

Interventional cardiologist Carlos Mena-Hurtado, MD, director of the Peripheral Vascular Disease Program and co-director of the Vascular Medicine Outcomes Program at Yale Medicine, performed the catheterization, which showed three blocked arteries.

“I was shocked,” said Mangini, who has no family history of heart disease, eats a healthy diet and exercises regularly. “I just looked at Dr. Mena and teared up.”

Blockages are usually caused by hardening of the arteries as result of diet and/or heredity. Many can be treated by placing a stent to open the artery, but multiple blocked arteries and blockages involving the left main artery usually require surgery.

Coronary artery bypass grafting to treat coronary artery disease

Dr. Mena-Hurtado consulted with Pramod Bonde, MD, who is with Yale New Haven Health’s Heart and Vascular Center Cardiac Surgery program and is an associate professor of surgery (cardiac) at Yale School of Medicine. Dr. Bonde determined that Mangini needed coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG). During the procedure, a healthy artery is taken from another part of the body and placed below the coronary artery blockage to create a new pathway for blood flow.

Knowing Mangini was anxious about the procedure, Dr. Bonde joked, “I’ll do your bypass procedure, as long as you promise not to put my name out there on the radio.” He also reassured Mangini that while it is open-heart surgery, CABG is a common procedure.

“Every year, more than a million patients worldwide undergo this procedure with excellent outcomes and quality of life,” Dr. Bonde said. “Research has shown that bypass yields the best long-term results, with decades added to patients’ overall lifespan.”

“Dr. Bonde and his entire team put me at ease. They made me feel like I was in good hands,” Mangini said. “They took the time to answer every question I had.”

On May 15, as Mangini was being wheeled into the operating room, he said a prayer, as he always does before facing an unknown situation, and joked, “This is my first surgery – anyone else?”

After surgery, Mangini spent eight days at Yale New Haven Hospital, first in the ICU, then on the Heart and Vascular Center Medical-Surgical unit (SP 5-3). He was up and walking the day after surgery.

“The level of care, professionalism and compassion I experienced was amazing,” he said. “The nurses were unbelievable. I would have one nurse and tell my partner, Lynne, ‘I had the best nurse last night.’ Then the next nurse would come in and they were just as good.”

Some of the nurses recognized Mangini from his visits to the hospital during Nurses Week, when WEBE 108 distributed flowers and plants to hospitals. Mangini would deliver many of the plants personally, chatting with nurses and other staff and thanking them for their work. Mangini spent eight weeks recovering at home before returning to the airwaves July 10. He’s looking forward to a trip to Italy later this summer.

“You hear some negative things about health care these days, and it makes you nervous because you’re not sure what to expect,” he said. “But when you come to a place like Yale New Haven Hospital and encounter people who are so dedicated to what they do – they make you feel like the most important person in the room.”

Learn more about YNHHS Heart and Vascular Center services.