Matters of the Heart


Lee Hoaglan, from Seneca County in New York, was told that he was at the end of his life. After suffering from progressive heart failure, doctors advised him to check in to hospice as his fourth open-heart surgery was failing. He was told that he probably wouldn’t make it to Christmas.

However, cardiothoracic surgeon Gosta Pettersson, MD, PhD, received Hoaglan’s medical file from the physician assistant at Hoaglan’s primary care physician’s office. Dr. Pettersson called Hoaglan letting him know that his would be a difficult surgery, but one that could save his life. Hoaglan decided to trust his heart to Dr. Pettersson and the team at Cleveland Clinic.

A very special Valentine’s Day

So this year, as he returned for his follow-up visit on Valentine’s Day, Hoaglan decided to get married where his heart was saved.

Hoaglan met his wife Phyllis Parish during his stay in hospice, and they bonded quickly. When the subject of weddings came up, it seemed only fitting that Hoaglan give his heart away in the very building where it was rebuilt. To the surprise of the couple, Pettersson attended the wedding to wish them well.

Hoaglan hopes their wedding will spread the message to never give up.

“If a local physician says there’s nothing that can be done, don’t just take their word for it,” he said. “Make phone calls. Ask other people. Exhaust all your resources. And don’t be afraid.”

Dr. Pettersson joined the happy couple during the ceremony.

Learn more about Lee and Phyllis