A Binghamton Emergency Room physician who battled COVID in the trenches recently received a special form of open heart surgery in New York City.

Doctor Rakesh Sharma traveled to Mount Sinai Morningside Hospital for a triple bypass in March.

Sharma had a history of high cholesterol and had been experiencing mild chest pains for a couple of years.

When the pressures in his chest worsened, he contacted a medcial school colleague at Mount Sinai who put him in touch with the hospital’s Chair of Cardiovascular Surgery Doctor John Puskas.

Puskas helped to pioneer the off-pump technique which does not impact the aorta and does not stop the heart from beating.

This reduces the risk of stroke or cognitive damage and allows for a quicker recovery.

Sharma, who is now back in Binghamton, is preparing to return to work soon.

He wishes he had had the surgery sooner.

“I was afraid to exercise because with little exertion, I was having chest pressure so I had to do everything very slowly and not to exert too much,” he said.

Puskas also uses the arterial bypass technique rather than using veins from the patient’s legs.

He took portions of arteries from inside Sharma’s breast bone and his left arm.

While the procedure is more complicated and time-consuming, Puskas says the results are longer lasting.

He says 50 percent of veins used in bypass will be clogged again in 10 years, compared to only 10 percent of arteries.

“Of all coronary bypass operations done in America this year, about 1% will be all artery bypass operations. It’s technically more demanding, the exact techniques to accomplish it are in evolution. It’s something that we have helped to evolve, and to design and to refine in an important way. And we teach it,” Puskas said.

While Sharma has been busy treating COVID patients in his E.R. over the past 2 plus years, he now believes he should have sought treatment sooner.

For more information on available treatments, go to http://MountSinai.org.