Retired sheriff tries new procedure 

Sheriff Gary Sexton, now retired, speaks from the Webster Parish Courthouse steps while he was in office. 

By Linnea Allen, KTBS-3

Retired Webster Parish Sheriff Gary Sexton found that he was slowing down. Usually spry and full of energy, Sexton was told it was his heart.

“I had just got to where I just didn’t have any energy, and was diagnosed about three years ago with a blockage in what I call the widowmaker, the main artery of the heart,” Sexton said.

He had stents put in. But after a few years his cardiologist, Dr. Jimmy Smith, told him he needed heart bypass surgery.

“I wasn’t really crazy about the open heart surgery,” Sexton said. “I’m a very active person and wasn’t crazy about them opening my chest.”

His surgeon, Dr. Timothy Danish, with Christus Shreveport-Bossier Health had an offer.

“He said, ‘I want you to think about something.’ And I said okay, and he sat down and he explained to me about the robotic bypass surgery. I had never heard of it. And he said, ‘It’s never been done in the Shreveport Bossier area.’ He said it’s been done. But he said we hadn’t done it over here,” Sexton said.

Danish told Sexton to go home and think about it.

“I’d never left his office and I told him, I said, ‘Doc, If it’ll keep you from opening my chest,’ I said, ‘there’s no thinking about it,” he said. “Let’s do the robotic bypass.’”

So, Sexton became the first patient in our area to undergo a robotic coronary artery single vessel bypass graft.

“The bypass itself is performed through a very small cut that’s between the ribs,” explained Danish. “And so, they avoid the open chest essentially, that’s the biggest part of it.”

Robotic surgery does not mean a machine performs the surgery.

“I’m the one that controls every single detail of what the robot does,” Danish said. “The way that the robot helps me is that the camera is extremely high quality. It actually gives us 3D vision inside someone’s body.”

The robot is actually an extension of the surgeon’s arms. It’s a high-tech tool that highly magnifies the surgical field so surgeons see better. It also eliminates surgeon fatigue and is more precise.

“With a robotic approach, the whole goal is to get them back to normal,” Danish said. “So back to work in just a few weeks, and back to their normal life.”

Sexton had the surgery on a Thursday and went home Sunday.

“And within a week’s time I was back, cutting and splitting firewood,” Sexton said. “It was just amazing how quick the recovery was.”

“The procedure went very well. He’s made an amazing recovery. In fact, we saw him a couple weeks ago in clinic and we had trouble even finding his incisions on his chest,” Danish said. “It a really cool thing for us to see. We were very excited about that. He healed very well.”

Sexton says before the surgery, he would get tired and have to sit down after walking about 50 yards on his farm. Now he’s walking two miles with no problem.

Danish says right now, heart bypass operations are the only ones they are doing robotically. But, he expects they’ll soon be doing valve surgeries, as well.

(Republished with permission from KTBS.)

Dr. Timothy Danish