Our Monday Motivation series on GuinnessWorldRecords.com profiles the inspiring stories of commitment, courage and dedication behind some of our most extraordinary titles. This week we're placing the spotlight on a brave record holder who has made medical history by surviving an illness that plagued his family.
Robert “Bobby” Brown believes in beating the odds.
Despite there being a slim chance of him surviving past the age of 40, Bobby's story is one of survival, perseverance, and now, a Guinness World Record title.
The 78-year-old from Gastonia, North Carolina (USA) is now able to spend his newfound time with the heartfelt company of his 8th grade sweetheart, three children, and six grandchildren as the Longest surviving double heart bypass patient.
However, he may not have received that time without his first brave plunge under the knife, at a time when open-heart surgery was not at the level it is today.
The year of 1975 would be the first time Bobby would go into an infirmary for intensive heart surgery. Such were his heart problems, that at the relatively young age of 37, if he wanted to continue living his life, surgery provided his only option.
Heart disease had plagued Bobby's family, he had lost his father at the age of four, as well as his two brothers in their 40s due to cardiovascular issues.
Despite the number of deaths, the most devastating bereavement was by far that of his oldest brother, who was idolised by Bobby as his “father fill-in”.
Brown felt the loss tremendously when he was taken so abruptly at a normal day of work.
Since the death of his last brother, heart disease had dwindled the numbers to his once six-person family to three.
It was a drastic loss that many are fortunate not to experience.
Little did Brown know that one night in 1975, he too would feel the same excruciating chest pains his father and brothers once felt.
After being taken to the emergency room from a night of severe discomfort, doctors at the Charlotte Memorial hospital declared that Bobby had two blockages out of his four coronary arteries.
He would need to undergo a double coronary bypass procedure, with the less-than-reassuring knowledge that the first successful bypass performed in the United States, had only been performed just eight years prior.
Yet, Bobby elected to regain control over the fate that hung over him to continue living for himself and his loved ones.
While he was frightened by the potential outcome, Bobby admits: “I had no choice. You just have to suck it up and face it… or risk an early demise.”
On September 3, 1975, surgeons of the Sanger Clinic Charlotte at the hospital would perform a successful double coronary bypass on Bobby, a procedure that would help him outlive his brothers by thirty years and counting.
Bobby was recognised by Guinness World Records as the longest surviving double heart bypass patient on the 6 April this year, having lived 40 years and 216 days since the operation.
After having a triple bypass procedure in 1985, a pacemaker and defibrillator put in in 2009, and stents added in 2013, Bobby now lives as a resilient patient who has overcome his genetic demons.
The retired businessman and school teacher now thanks his fantastic surgeons and healthcare professionals for his recovery and long-term survival.
He mentions, “I am just the recipient of some wonderful care. I want to encourage others that surgery is not the end but a new chance on life.”
Bobby is thrilled and pleased to get the chance to do things he loves. With the time he has gained from his surgery, he has become an award-winning historical author, member of the Mended Hearts Caromont Health Chapter, grandfather, and has reached great progress on restoring his 1930 Model A Ford.
A subsequent of his life story, he now lives by 5 epigrams:
1. Do something for someone else
2. Do something creative
3. Do something selfish
4. Do something learned.
5. During the day, have a good laugh.
Bobby is thrilled to be a Guinness World Records title holder, and considers it a great honour, believing it to be a wonderful addition to his story that he can now share to inspire others.