New book - by Robby Benson

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Active member
Mar 8, 2010
I'm Not Dead... Yet!
by Robby Benson

My wife got me this book. It was an interesting read.

I did not think it would be a synopsis of his film career. However, when he wrote about what it is like to be an open heart patient, he nailed it.



VR.org Donator
VR.org Supporter
May 28, 2007
Silver Spring, MD
Just finished Robby Benson’s book “I’m Not Dead…Yet”, by Robby Benson, Valor Editions, 2012, ISBN 978-0-615-41873-5. The book is available as an ebook through valoreditions.com and in paperback.

As described on the back cover of the book: “A riveting medical memoir. Actor/Writer/Director Robby Benson takes us on a candid journey from athletic soft-spoken heartthrob on Broadway and film, to husband, father, professor – and courageous survivor of 4 open heart surgeries. From One On One, Ice Castles, The Chosen, and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, to directing TV’s Ellen and Friends, the funny and explicit narrative –with the author’s beautiful photography, career and personal photos – is a must for fans and essential reading for heart patients and their loved ones, and any one searching for what should be the template for health care in America.”

Robby started as an actor in the late 1960’s/early 1970’s and then became a writer and director. He was born with a Bicuspid Aortic Valve.

His medical journey as described in the book:

1st OHS: 10/31/1984 (age 28 - he was born 01/21/1956) at UCLA Medical Center, Dr. Hillel Laks; bovine aortic valve (page 133)

Several bouts of Pericarditis, starting around 1986 (page 158)

A TEE in 1998 (page 213) (and at other times probably also)

2nd OHS: 1998 (page 293) (age 42) at Cedars Sinai Hospital, Ross Procedure with his own pulmonary valve placed in aortic position and homograph for the pulmonary position. The 2nd OHS is described around pages 217.

An Ablation in 2000 (page 236)

Cardiac Depression/PTSD (pages 243, 247),

Tractor Accident in 2003 (broken shoulder) (page 278)

Valvuoplasty before 3rd OHS around 2004 - 2005 (by Dr. Hadley Wilson, page 290)

3rd OHS: pretty sure the 4th OHS was done in 2005 when he would have been 49, although there is a slight chance it might have been in 2004 when he was 48 as the exact date for the procedure is not provided, although it says it was done 6.5 years after the 2nd OHS. The 3rd OHS was done at Carolina Medical Center, surgeon Dr. R. Mark Stiegel (page 291). During the 3rd OHS it was found that the pulmonary valve had been sewn on incorrectly and the homograft needed replacing. The 3rd OHS is described on pages 293 - 297 (which he describes as "excellent" on page 296).

4th OHS: 05/25/2010 (age 54) at Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Gosta Pettersson. Reverse Ross with original pulmonary valve re-sewn from aortic position back into (its original) pulmonary position, and with graft (page 353) and On-X valve (page 354) in aortic position. The 4th OHS is described starting on page 339 until the end of the book. His 4th OHS required his longest stay in the hospital (9 days). Before he got his 4th OHS he says “every single nurse, every doctor, every tech person that I came to respect told me: You don’t want a 5th open heart surgery Robby…” (page 345).

After reading it I thought that he really went through the mill. And then I think how different it might have been if he had gotten a mechanical valve for OHS # 1 back in 1984. He probably could have skipped OHS # 2, 3, & 4. The Ross Procedure in 1998 was definitely a mistake.

In addition to the heart surgery information the book has information about Robby’s work as an actor, writer, and director. There are a lot of photographs. Despite all the heart surgeries he’s a very active person. The book is an interesting read and I strongly recommend for prospective and veteran heart valve patients.

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