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Gwinnett Medical Center Performs 500th PCI Procedure


Lawrenceville, Ga.—When Carey Merritt, 69, agreed to help his sister, Linda Reher, do some renovations in her Loganville home, he had no idea that decision would save his life. Merritt works as a carpenter in his hometown of Ivey, Ga., a town of 1,100 located halfway between Milledgeville and Macon, and likes nothing better than a big project like his sister’s bathroom renovation.

At 4:38 a.m., on Sept. 21, a few days into his visit, Merritt awoke with a heart attack. “I thought I wasn’t going to make it,” he said. “I stumbled into the living room and my sister called 911.”

Paramedics and police cars responded to the call. Every ambulance in Gwinnett County has the LifeNet system, so when Merritt arrived at Gwinnett Medical Center’s emergency department, they were ready for him.

“Mr. Merritt had blockages in all three of his major coronary arteries,” said Sean Delaney, MD, the interventional cardiologist who was on duty that day. “The protocol when a patient comes in with an active heart attack is to perform the PCI only on the culprit, or affected, artery.”

“Two days later,” said Jim John, MD, MPH, another interventional cardiologist at Gwinnett Medical Center, “Dr. Delaney performed the second PCI, and a week later, I performed the third. Placement of these stents helped Mr. Merritt avoid having to have bypass surgery.”

PCI is short for percutaneous coronary intervention, the formal name for coronary angioplasty and stenting.

It turns out Merritt’s surgery was the 500th PCI performed at Gwinnett Medical Center since it began performing the procedures about six months ago.

After a three-day stay in the hospital, Merritt was discharged and returned to his sister’s home. A week later, he was doing so well that Dr. John went ahead and performed that third PCI.

Merritt doesn’t remember much about the two PCI procedures he had after his heart attack, but for this third one, “It was a piece of cake,” he said. “Everyone’s been real nice.”

“If I’d been at home by myself in Ivey,” Meritt said, “I probably would have died in the house. It was a good thing I was at my sister’s. I was in the right place at the right time.”

About Gwinnett Medical Center
Gwinnett Medical Center is a not-for-profit healthcare network with acute-care hospitals in Lawrenceville and Duluth that provide award-winning healthcare services. GMC’s 4,200 associates and 800 affiliated physicians serve more than 400,000 patients annually. To learn more about how GMC is transforming healthcare, follow us at, or