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Life Saving Care at U of U Health Saves Life of Local Fourth Generation Candy Maker

Randy Woolley with family

The Saturday before Thanksgiving, Randy Woolley was doing what he always does at the start of the holiday season: making candy for his family’s candy company.

“I was making a batch of butter toffee, and I started to have what felt like bad indigestion,” said Woolley. “I took Tums and Pepto Bismol and nothing seemed to help.”

Woolley had radiating pain in his chest that traveled up to his neck and lower jaw. He broke out in a cold sweat. Woolley’s wife Angie was concerned, so she texted a neighbor who happens to be an ER nurse.

“As soon as our neighbor heard my symptoms, she told Angie that we needed to go to the ER immediately,” said Woolley.

Woolley was having a heart attack.

“I was conscious the whole time,” he said.

Woolley lives in Herriman, about five minutes away from the University of Utah Health Center in Daybreak.

“We drove over to the health center, walked into the ER and I told them I was pretty sure I was having a heart attack,” said Woolley.

After hearing his symptoms and confirming the heart attack with an EKG, the reality of the situation started to hit Woolley and his wife.

“We walked into this room and there were about twelve people waiting to start working on me,” said Woolley. “They had me lay down and told me they were going to take care of me.”
Randy Woolley, patient

The care team began to prep Woolley for life flight. Although Woolley didn’t know it at the time, the care team started a timer for fifteen minutes. Their goal? To get Woolley prepped and on the helicopter before the timer went off.

Woolley rode to the University of Utah Hospital via helicopter – an eight-minute journey from the U of U Health Center in Daybreak. Another large care team was ready and waiting to operate on Woolley when the helicopter arrived.

“They got me out of the helicopter and wheeled me down the sidewalk and into the hospital through a couple of double doors into the operating room,” said Woolley. “They said they didn’t have a lot of time to explain what they were going to do, but that they were going to go in and find the blockage in my heart and fix it.”

From the time Woolley walked into the ER at the U of U Health Center in Daybreak, to the time the operation started, less than thirty minutes had passed.

“It was incredible,” said Woolley. “Both for my wife, Angie, getting me to the ER less than thirty minutes after I started having symptoms, and to the medical staff getting me from Herriman clear over to the U of U Hospital operating room less than thirty minutes later.”

The medical team began operating and quickly found a blockage in his left anterior descending (LAD) artery. The LAD is the largest artery in the heart. It sends oxygen rich blood to the left ventricle of the heart. Woolley’s LAD was 99% blocked.

“It was a massive heart attack,” said Woolley. “They refer to this kind of heart attack as the widow maker.”

Woolley had three stints put in, and the 99% blockage cleared completely.

“It was incredible,” said Woolley. “Because everyone was on their A game, they were able to get me out of that terrible situation.”
Randy Woolley, patient

After surgery Woolley recovered in the intensive care unit (ICU).

“They started me on some medication and monitored me and my symptoms very closely,” he said. “I started to experience more chest pain that night, so my nurse and doctor found a medication to keep things under control.”

The day after his heart attack, Woolley was feeling well enough to meet with the physical therapy team to establish a new baseline, post-surgery.

“I walked down the hallway, and then up two flights of stairs with zero problems whatsoever,” he said.

A cardiogram determined that Woolley’s heart attack had caused him to lose about thirty percent of his heart’s pumping capacity.

“They said it was pretty remarkable considering the kind of heart attack I had,” said Woolley. “They credited it to everyone acting quickly.”

Woolley’s prognosis was really good. His heart was expected to fully recover within nine months to a year after his heart attack.

After spending one day in the ICU, Woolley transferred to a general care unit. Just two days later he was released from the hospital. The timing meant Woolley could be home with his family for Thanksgiving.

“I’m so thankful for everything the care team did for me,” he said. “I was released from the hospital on Tuesday and was cooking a turkey for my family on Thursday.”
Randy Woolley, patient
Randy Wolley hiking with family

Woolley started physical therapy in the middle of December and made great progress from the start.

“Just one month into physical therapy, I had already regained fifteen percent of the 30 percent heart function I lost in the heart attack,” he said.

As scary as the experience has been, Woolley said it has given him a new life.

“It was a really scary day for me and my family,” he said. “Fortunately, everybody at the University of Utah was on their A game that day.”

Woolley is looking forward to continuing his seasonal candy making business, attending U of U football games, and celebrating holidays with his family.

“I’m glad to be here, to celebrate another Thanksgiving, another Christmas, and another New Year,” he said. “And for many more years to come, of course.”