After KGO’s Pete Wilson died of a massive heart attack at Stanford Hospital during a routine hip-replacement operation, officials there refused to take questions from the media about what went wrong, citing privacy concerns. But KGO says that on Monday night, the hospital issued this statement:

    “[T]he procedure was underway when he suddenly experienced a massive heart attack.

    “When this occurred, we summoned to the operating room a special team that included a renowned heart transplant surgeon, cardiac anesthesiologists and cardiologists, who all worked unceasingly together for several hours to restore his heart function.

    “Mr. Wilson was placed on heart-lung bypass during these efforts and was subsequently transferred to the intensive care unit. Despite these extensive efforts, we were not able to save him.

    “Everyone involved in Mr. Wilson’s care and in supporting his family — is experiencing profound sorrow at this outcome.”

Reporter Suzanne Bohan of the MediaNews Group newspapers writes:

    “An angiogram administered while Wilson was on life-support revealed a terrible surprise: Wilson had severely blocked coronary arteries, which feed the heart oxygen and nutrients. One was almost 100 percent blocked, and the other 70 percent obstructed with plaque, said [Wilson family spkesman Chapin] Day.

    “So how could a patient, surrounded by medical professionals in an elite institution, end up in surgery for an elective procedure when his heart was so ill-equipped to survive the challenge of surgery?

    “Because the field of cardiology still has far to go, said Dr. Ann Bolger, a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association and a University of California, San Francisco cardiologist. ‘We need to remember our job isn’t done understanding cardiology,’ Bolger said. ‘There is still huge room for improvement.'”

KGO’s Dr. Dean Edell, who worked with Wilson on radio and TV for many years, offered these observations:

    “There’s an important lesson for everybody in this, what you look like is not what’s going on inside. And if we had a perfect test that could predict who is going to have a heart attack in the near future and who’s not, well I suppose we’d want to do it on everybody.

    “The only test that can do that is really angiography and we can’t do it on everybody. If every patient undergoing surgery had an angiogram we would break our medical care system. They’re very expensive and potentially dangerous.

    “As far as we know, he had no symptoms of heart disease ahead of time, no reason to be extra specially cautious. There was a cardiogram that was done the night before surgery and it was fine. Now, a cardiogram tells you if you have had a heart attack. That’s what a cardiogram is good for, but it doesn’t predict who’s going to have a heart attack, and yet we use it as an inexpensive screening measure, very often in this particular situation. So everybody was taken by surprise with this.”

Here is a screen shot from the close of Wilson’s final newscast on Channel 7 last Wednesday. Next to him is anchor Carolyn Johnson, who wrote on her blog:

    “Wednesday evening we talked about his surgery. He was apprehensive, but looking forward to getting it over with, getting back to work and back on the golf course. When we left the studio at 7 o’clock, I wished him all the best and told him we’d be thinking of him Thursday. If only our thoughts and prayers could have carried him through.”

For more on this, see our previous post on Wilson’s death. (Top photo credits: WTMJ Milwaukee, mid-1970s; KGO-TV screen grab 1989; KGO-TV screen grab 2007)

SF Press Club News

One Comment

  1. nice choice of photos of pete from each of the decades, but the bottom pic of him and carolyn is spooky … it’s like he’s saying goodbye. like he knows he’s saying goodbye to what he loved doing … RIP pete!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>