Dr. Ahmed Sabe is a Harvard-trained interventional cardiologist. He is executive director of cardiovascular services at Mercy Medical Center, director of the cardiac catheterization lab and co-director of Mercy’s Emergency Chest Pain Center.
And a superhero, too, though he doesn’t cop to the title easily.
“I am human after all, human like you, with a head and two hands. I was a product of a creator who is so fair. He spreads the talent. You have talent, I have talent. If we all had the same talent, it wouldn’t work. I always say, ‘Everyone is important when he finds his talent.’ When you find your talent, you can do it and contribute,” Sabe explained.
According to Sabe, everyone dies on a certain day: He doesn’t save those on his table; it simply wasn’t their time.
Words difficult to believe from a man who has led Mercy Medical Center’s success with emergency heart care during the past 19 years. Difficult to believe, indeed, from the man who led the installation of the nation’s first and only fixed cardiac catheterization lab in an emergency department, resulting in Mercy’s touting one of the fastest angioplasty responses in the country.
Hard to believe, perhaps, but genuine assertions nonetheless from the man who performed the world’s first angioplasty in an emergency department in 1998 and whose work led to Mercy’s becoming the first accredited chest pain center in 2003.
He is a man of many firsts, medically, but he is first a man of faith. He upholds the vision of Mercy, and of its Sisters, as a place of holistic care for the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of patients.
“He’s incredibly dedicated to making sure that what is being done is done in the absolute best interest of the patient. If there are two ways to do something, the way to do it is the way that gives the patient the best outcome. That’s what drives him,” said Mercy President and CEO Thomas Cecconi. “He is a marvel. Every physician is an incredible individual, but Dr. Sabe stands out as one of the best I’ve ever worked with.”
It is with total patient health in mind that he has developed his many innovations, saving innumerable Stark Countians. He describes the heart attack as a trauma, explaining that no matter who you are or how much money you have, you will come to your local hospital because there’s no time. But for Sabe, geography and time shouldn’t dictate quality of care.
“When you come into the emergency department (for a heart attack), you get transferred to the cath lab — that transfer takes nurses and monitors. It takes time, sometimes 20 or 30 minutes. I realized that if we cut this time, it could reflect positively on the patient risk. That’s where the idea for the cath lab inside our emergency department came from.”
And if a patient has no pulse, the hospital can’t admit him or her. But the patient can be brought into the emergency department, and for Mercy patients, that equates to lives saved.
The only obstacle to this very important “first” was money, roughly $300,000 to put the cath lab in the emergency department. Sabe presented the idea to the hospital board and Sisters, explaining that it would help him save lives; help stop the damage of heart attacks with more muscle saved; that it would help patients recover quicker, reduce their lengths of stay, and most importantly, result in a better quality of life.
He credits the Sisters for seeing his vision, for seeing a better way to care for patients, for finding a way to bring the catheterization lab to fruition.
The best thing you can do for the people you love the most is to make the community around you safer. The most important person to you in the world is the plumber when you need your sink fixed. Everyone has a talent. You need people when you need them.”
That from a man who has saved lives and created systems that save lives. A superhero if I’ve ever seen one.
- 1996: Performed Stark County’s first transseptal mitral valvuloplasty. Mercy is one of only three centers in Ohio to perform this procedure. Also performed Stark County’s first coronary Rotablator atherectomy, Stark County’s first intracoronary ultrasound, and Stark County’s first extraction atherectomy and first percutaneous aortic balloon valvuloplasty.
- 1997: Performed the nation’s first transseptal valvuloplasty on a mitral valve with surgically implanted Carpentier ring.
- 1998: Performed the world’s first angioplasty in an emergency department, Stark County’s first unprotected left main coronary stent and Stark County’s first radial stent coronary angioplasty.
- 1999: Presented the first national findings on emergency room angioplasty within the emergency room at the 72nd Scientific Sessions of the American Heart Association in Atlanta.
- 2000: Reported on the lowest mortality rate of any chest pain center in the U.S. at the Society of Chest Pain Centers’ annual conference in Baltimore, Md.
- 2001: Initiated the nation’s first emergency room use of cardiopulmonary bypass to resuscitate victims of heart attack and performed Akron/Canton’s first gamma brachytherapy.
- 2003: First chest pain center in the nation to earn accreditation from the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care.
Superhero. The word has no equal in the English language when it comes to precisely pinpointing the confluence of hope and action.
It’s a word most often applied to pop culture goliaths—those larger than life crusaders that have entertained us for decades on the screen, page and now, even on Broadway’s stage. And here locally in the Hall of Fame City and City of Champions, it is difficult not to idolize our gridiron heroes.
We root for the good guys, and at the root of that rooting is hope.
For this issue, it was my great privilege to sit down with six local superheroes. No capes, no tights—just honest, unassuming, real-life superheroes—men and women who are saving lives and rescuing our residents. Men and women who give us hope.
If writing this story has taught me anything, it’s that superheroes are among us. I think you’ll agree—unmasking these six is proof enough.
And there are more out there. Superheroes are not fictional characters with too good-to-be-true powers. Their powers are true and good and very, very real.
Their powers give us hope.