Skydiving promise to grandson saves 74-year-old’s life

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — A 74-year-old Wimberley man says he’s alive today thanks to a promise he made to his grandson – to go skydiving on his 18th birthday.

“I thought, well that’s one thing I can check off the list, so I’ll go with him,” remembers Ed Flemming.

Flemming didn’t realize it at the time, but the trip of a lifetime would end up saving his life. Because he’s over 65, Skydive San Marcos required clearance from a doctor.

“I took the stress test Friday afternoon and was driving home and got a call from them saying to turn around and get to the Austin heart hospital as soon as you can.”

Doctors told Flemming he needed open heart surgery, a Quintuple Bypass to treat five blocked arteries. Flemming didn’t believe it.

“I just thought it was a mistake on the part of someone’s machinery, because I felt fine, I had no symptoms at all.”

He had the surgery three days after the diagnosis. Brannon Hyde, M.D. with Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgeons, performed it at the Heart Hospital of Austin. He says if Flemming jumped out of a plane, it likely would’ve killed him.

“If he had not got the surgery, based on these pictures, we know that his long term survival would not be good. In fact at some point, he would’ve had a major heart attack,” said Dr. Hyde.

We asked Dr. Hyde if Flemming should go skydiving now. “Absolutely. The reason for doing heart surgery on people is to get people back to living, not to sit around doing nothing.”

A prescription Flemming can get on board with.

“I’ll take it, whatever it was. Divine intervention, or fate, or whatever, I’m certainly glad I did it,” said Flemming. “Soon as I get clearance from these fellas, I’ll be ready to go.”

Because at age 74, Ed is still writing his definition of living.

Doctors say if you’re not having any symptoms of heart problems but want to make sure everything’s ok, ask for a HeartSaver CT, which you can get at Heart Hospital of Austin. It can detect heart disease in its earliest and most treatable stages.

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