February 14, 2019

The Boyer Family and “The Best, Worst Experience” – My Healthy Life Podcast: Episode 17

2019--boyer-family-group-photoBy Ferriss Roberts

In October 2018, the Boyer family planned a small family reunion in Asheville (pictured). Visiting from northern Michigan, they did all of the things that tourists do when visiting our travel-friendly city that welcomes people to the mountains. They stayed at a cabin, enjoyed meals at one of the many award-winning restaurants and took a trip to the Biltmore House – and it wouldn’t be a family reunion without a round of Frisbee golf. They fell in love with Asheville and the people in it – even after an unexpected event left Doug Boyer in Mission Hospital for over a week.

When Doug Boyer went into cardiac arrest a few days into their trip, it would change their family’s lives forever – and their perception of Asheville, but surprisingly not for the worst.

“We left Asheville feeling like we were leaving family.”

In my first conversation with Doug and his wife, Kathy, she said, “If it wasn’t so awful, we’d just want to hang out with all of these people,” talking about the members of Doug’s care team. It was what they call “the best, worst experience.”

It’s been nearly four months since Doug went into cardiac arrest and had quadruple bypass surgery. You can hear his miraculous recovery in his voice that he gets stronger every day. We talked to Doug and Kathy a few weeks ago and are touched by their story. We wanted to share it with you.


In this episode of My Healthy Life, you’ll hear about the Boyer’s experience with Mission Heart and all of the people who are the heart of Mission Health.


Mission Health leads the nation in treating heart attacks with an average of 41 minutes in door-to-balloon time (this is the time from when a patient enters the hospital to the time the heart vessel is open). Additionally, the time it takes on average for a patient to arrive from home (or the place of the incident) to the hospital and get heart blockage opened is 78-80 minutes, compared to the national 90-minute average. “This is a stellar response,” said Angela Solesbee, coordinator for Mission Health’s heart regional services chest pain and STEMI program, who was with the Boyer family every step of the way. “The significance [of this number] is we’re saving the cardiac muscle and we’re saving lives,” Angela explained.

At 70 years old, Doug is active, healthy and strong. His family has a history of heart issues, but prior to this incident, Doug had no presenting symptoms of heart problems. Heart issues don’t always have obvious signs and symptoms. Learn more about your cardiovascular health by taking our Heart Health quiz online at missionhealth.org/heart.

Doug gets stronger and makes progress every day as he continues physical therapy and routine doctor visits. A couple of months ago, he was able to drive on a tractor and blow snow during Michigan’s winter. Doug is a sharp shooter on the US Rifle team where he has won the world championship among 26 countries and has already returned to shooting again. He wants you to know he does not hunt or shoot animals.

The Boyer family thanks every member of Doug’s and the family’s care team for their hope, partnership, being at the family’s side every step of the way and for not giving up on Doug – who Kathy says is a fighter and the strongest person she knows. The family looks forward to returning to Asheville and Mission Health for Doug’s one-year follow-up visit later this year; one of their daughters even wants to plan her 40th birthday in Asheville.

We extend our sincerest appreciation and gratitude to the Boyer family for opening their hearts and sharing their story and Mission Experience, so that we may share it with you in the spirit of Heart Month.


How to Listen to My Healthy Life Podcast

Subscribe to My Healthy Life on Apple Podcast. Listen to My Healthy on SoundCloud. Visit the podcast archives on our blog at blog.missionhealth.org/podcast.

Mission Heart has been a regional leader in heart care and cardiothoracic surgery for more than 40 years. Our award-winning teams, including Asheville Cardiology Associates, maintain a high level of specialized clinical experience and expertise to provide a team-oriented, comprehensive approach to care for patients with heart issues. IBM Watson Health has recognized Mission Heart as a 50 Top Cardiovascular Hospital for the thirteenth time. Learn more at missionhealth.org/heart.

Oliver Binns, MD, is a thoracic surgeon at Mission Heart. Dennis Unks, MD, is an invasive cardiologist at Asheville Cardiologist Associates.