Patient Married in Hospital After Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm Surgery

Karen Amon at her wedding, marrying her longtime partner Carlo

At age 75, Karen Amon is a newlywed.  Amon married her best friend and partner of 33 years on January 29, 2017, in the University of Maryland Rehabilitation and Orthopaedic Institute. Surrounded by loving family members, Amon held a bouquet in her hospital bed while her partner, Carlo, walked down a makeshift aisle to his bride.

Amon credits her recent marriage and happiness to cardiac surgeon Dr. Bradley Taylor and the team of medical professionals at the University of Maryland Medical Center who saved her life when her thoracic aortic aneurysm burst on New Years' Day.

"We had been talking about getting married before, but we’d said, 'Why do it now after living together for 33 years?'" Amon said. "It was clear when he asked me to marry him three weeks after I was admitted to the hospital that we should get married; we don’t know what tomorrow will bring."

With a new lease on life, Amon feels extremely grateful for the care she has received during her surgery and rehabilitation.

Dr. Taylor with Karen Amon after surgery"Dr. Taylor gave me my life back. I wouldn’t be here without him," Amon said. "The nurses who helped me in the ICU treated me with such kindness; as if I was I was their own mother, even when I wasn’t the best patient."

Because Carlo was in rehabilitation after experiencing a brain hemorrhage in early December, Amon was home alone when her aneurysm burst. Thankfully, both her cell and home phones were in reach, allowing Amon to reach her daughter and a 911 emergency operator at the same time.

"My daughter’s husband works in cardiac medicine, and he called ahead to make certain that the Emergency Department was ready for my arrival. Later, I heard that when Dr. Taylor was notified of my condition, he said, 'Just get her to me' before he turned around on his way home and rushed back to the hospital," Amon said.

Amon was flown via helicopter to the University of Maryland Medical Center, an experience she remembers vividly despite her heart stopping immediately upon reaching the surgical table.

"I remember being greeted by Dr. Taylor and Dr. Shelby Stewart, and then I remember experiencing a big bang and seeing a beautiful blue sky filled with millions and millions of stars," Amon said. "After that, I remember nothing except waking up in the Intensive Care Unit."

Amon chose the University of Maryland Rehabilitation and Orthopaedic Institute for her recovery and described the physical therapy as top-notch.

"I got emotional today because I was able to get out of my wheelchair. I hope to be able to walk soon," Amon said.

When asked about married life, Amon said that she couldn’t be happier.

"He was my buddy in high school and had joined the coast guard. We had both married and separated from other people when we met at our 20th high school reunion," Amon said. "He's my best friend and is so, so loving."

Amon left the University of Maryland Rehabilitation and Orthopaedic Institute in early April. She was happy to return to her favorite pastimes, including playing with her cats, Truls and Torvild, who were named in honor of Amon's Norwegian heritage. With her 76th birthday quickly approaching, Amon feels nothing but grateful to be alive.

"They saved my life," Amon said. "I feel as if I’ve been given a new beginning. I will do my best to make the most of it."