Where the heart is

Craig and Teresa Pape
Founders members
Invest in heart and vascular care

It was supposed to be a run-of-the-mill annual appointment. Check the vitals, discuss any changes in symptoms and boom, done. But within minutes of arriving at his doctor’s office last January, Craig Pape was being loaded into the back of an ambulance bound for the emergency department at Swedish Cherry Hill.

“I was in disbelief,” says Craig, a Director of Executive Recruiting at Amazon. “I’d worked all day, I’d run up two flights of stairs to the clinic without any trouble—surely I could drive myself.”

His doctor wouldn’t budge. Not only was his heart racing, but he was also in atrial fibrillation, or AFib, an irregular heartbeat that can have serious long-term consequences. In the short term, his doctor was afraid Craig could have a stroke at any moment.

The news didn’t get much better after Teresa, his wife of 20 years, met him at Cherry Hill. Additional tests and blood work revealed that his AFib was caused by a thyroid condition called Graves’ disease.

What’s worse, his heart had taken such a beating from the arrhythmia that it was beginning to fail. The out-of-left-field diagnosis set Craig’s and Teresa’s mind racing. “You hear that you’ve maybe got five years to live and you start asking yourself questions like, ‘Do I quit work to spend what time I have left with my family or try to earn as much as I can so they’re taken care of after I’m gone?’” he says. Teresa imagined raising their two young boys on her own.

They credit John Mignone, M.D., Ph.D., with slowing their spiral of despair. The Robert M. and Patricia Arnold Endowed Medical Director for Heart Failure mixed conscientiousness with compassion as he explained the path that lay in front of them, going so far as to diagram the ins and outs of the diagnosis on a whiteboard for the self-professed “logical” Craig.

"We wanted to support Dr. Mignone in a way that would allow him to provide care to others who might not otherwise have access to it" –Craig

Dr. Mignone’s continued care—not to mention accessibility—is what inspired the Papes to give to the John L. Locke Advanced Cardiac Support Program at Swedish. As Craig’s prognosis improved and thoughts of needing to save every last penny for his family’s future faded, he and Teresa decided to support Dr. Mignone’s work. In particular, they liked the idea of helping him provide that same level of care to patients in other communities, through a telehealth initiative.

Giving has always had a personal spin for Craig and Teresa. For several years they’ve used a donor advised fund to support youth music and sports programs—causes they discovered through their children’s lives. This time the catalyst wasn’t nearly as positive, but they hope the result will be.

Thanks to supporters like Craig and Teresa—and you—our patients have access to innovative cardiovascular care and hope for a healthy tomorrow. To learn more about how your gift makes a difference at the Swedish Heart & Vascular Institute, contact Executive Director of Major Gifts Samantha Vanover at 206-386-3349 or [email protected].