Hattiesburg Restaurateur, Ron Savell, walking with his family through Forrest General hospital Picture was taken prior to COVID-19 restrictions.
HATTIESBURG, Miss. (February 18, 2021) It’s been eighteen months since Hattiesburg restaurateur Ron Savell underwent quadruple bypass surgery at Forrest General Hospital. He was just 43 years old at the time. It wasn’t something he planned or expected.
Savell had been going to the doctor for yearly checkups even though nothing was wrong. He did it for himself, his wife and children, but also because as an adoptee, he knew nothing of his family history. Those visits mostly likely saved his life.
“I’ve had annual checkups for years due to being in business, wanting to take care of myself and having children,” he said. “I have a cheesy analogy that guys take better care of our cars than we do our bodies. Guys are usually more afraid of what they might find out rather than the visit itself.”
About four years ago, Savell scheduled an echocardiogram, which turned out fine, so he decided to bypass a stress test. Fast forward to July 2019 when Savell went in for a regular checkup with Brea Leathers, DNP, FNP, at Bellevue Family Medicine Clinic. Having missed the previous stress test, a new one was scheduled which showed a small spot on Savell’s heart. The spot didn’t seem to be concerning, but to be on the safe side, Dr. Josh Blair conducted a heart catheterization which showed three blockages and resulted in quadruple bypass surgery one week later. “If Josh hadn’t done that heart catheterization it might have been game over,” Savell said.
Savell said that Blair knew why he was both curious and concerned about his health. “I never had any shortness of breath or pain in my chest, so there was no reason to get tested other than my curiosity and my kids,” Savell said.
Out of ICU in less than 24 hours, Savell was moved to 2T where his sister worked. “I thought that would be a breeze, and I would get all the ice chips I wanted,” he said. “They really made me do everything I was supposed to. They had me up and walking the very next day, and I was back home in three days and back in the office in about two weeks.” Savell credits his quick recovery to his drive to get back home to family, but also due to getting up, exercising and moving around.
“I received excellent care at Forrest General,” he said. “I emailed the president of the hospital soon after my release and told him how awesome the care, staff and facility were. Everything they told me to do, I did. I couldn’t have been happier with my care.”
Because his heart issues stemmed heavily from genetics, Savell didn’t really change his lifestyle. “I grew up running and always exercised and with four children, we were always busy,” he said. “I don’t eat very good, but not very bad either. My heart problems weren’t attributed to my eating habits or stress at work, which I’m glad my wife could hear.”
These days Savell is as busy as ever with 24 Mugshots and Patio 44 restaurants across four states. He feels great and finds it hard to believe that his surgery was in the summer of 2019. But he hasn’t forgotten about his heart.
During February, Heart Health Month, Savell’s Mugshot locations are running a fundraiser for the American Heart Association. “One of our core values is giving back to our community,” he said, “We love giving to the community, whether it’s food in a time of need or whatever. I thought this fundraiser was a way to give back to the American Heart Association, because they do a lot of the testing and fundraising for measures that probably saved me.” The businesses are selling hearts for $1 which are displayed throughout the eatery. There are also commemorative red cups with the Mugshots logo on one side and a heart with “Bringing Awareness to American Heart Month” on the other. He hopes these will serve as reminders for others to take care of their heart.
Savell has friends who have heeded his advice and gone in for a checkup. “Luckily, they haven’t discovered anything as severe as mine, just some high cholesterol and other things they wouldn’t have otherwise discovered,” Savell said. “That could have been me. I never had the first problem. Take the initiative to go get a checkup, even if you don’t have problems. I’m a ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it kind of guy.’ Fortunately, I got checked, because it saved me.”