Avera Medical Minute AHH: Life Saving Dad's Gift - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Avera Medical Minute AHH: Life Saving Dad's Gift

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Clayton Sonnenschein hugs his daughter Cindy while at cardiac rehab. Clayton Sonnenschein hugs his daughter Cindy while at cardiac rehab.

70 million father's are celebrating their day today with gifts that probably vary from homemade cards to ties to golf balls, but as Nancy Naeve Brown tells us a dad in Harrisburg got a gift from his daughter that saved his life.

Clayton Sonnenschein is no stranger to exercise. He either runs or bikes every morning. His routine has changed a bit though right now he is limited to riding a stationary bike inside at the Avera Heart Hospital. Clayton is in his first week of cardiac rehab after undergoing open heart surgery. Here's the thing though, he would have never known anything was wrong had he not gone through the Avera Heart Hospital's Planet Heart (Heart Screening); a present for Father's Day from his daughter Cindy.

"Originally, I wanted mom to do it and I decided it would be a good mother's day/father's day present because none of us are good about routine check ups and physicals," Cindy said.

 "She didn't think she could get her mother to come in so she made an appointment for both of us and that's why I came in," Clayton said.

Ironically, Cindy's mom Sharon checked out just fine, but while Clayton was in the CT scan to check the calcium in his coronary arteries, the techs discovered something alarming.

"They came in with long faces and I said what's with the long face and she said you are in A-Fib so they immediately took steps to get me in to the ER," Clayton said.

In atrial fibrillation or A-Fib the upper part of the heart beats faster than the rest of the heart. Left untreated it could lead to congestive heart failure or heart attack. After further testing Clayton's Cardiologist Dr. Sean Halligan with North Central Heart discovered his A-Fib was the result of severe aortic stenosis (narrowing of the walls of the aortic valve) and two days later he had his aortic valve replaced with a mechanical valve.

"To be honest, when Dr. Halligan called back and said he needed open heart surgery it was scary. It was the last thing you'd expect, Cindy said.

"That valve could have stuck shut and that would have been sleep time. So I've always enjoyed my kids and you can see why, "Clayton said.

"The whole process we think saved my husband's life, "Sharon said.

Talk about being in the right place at the right time.

 "I've been raised in a great Christian family and God had a plan for us and this was it. He put me in a position to help my dad, "said Cindy tearing up.

 "How can you love a daughter more than you already do, but I can her," Clayton said.

A Father's Day gift that keeps on giving because it keeps the most important man in Cindy's life around to see another day and another Father's day which none of Sonnenschiens will ever take for granted again.

Planet Heart costs $50. Vascular screening also costs $50. You can get both for a bargain price of $75. You can pick up a gift certificate at the Avera Heart Hospital or make an appointment by calling 605-977-7000


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