Thanksgiving miracles for Pat and Wayne

Husband and wife suffer heart attacks just a few days apart

Faith and love kept this family going through extremely scary time


Each year, as Thanksgiving draws near, people across the country pause to think about what they are grateful for, what they are most thankful for, people, events, and even things that have had a significant impact on their lives over the past year. For the Pat and Wayne Seibers, they didn’t have to look back far – they are most thankful for their hearts that are still beating today so they can continue to live and love each other and their families this season.

Pat and Wayne, both 57, experienced a rare phenomenon – although not a pleasant one – last month when both found themselves in separate hospitals when they both had heart attacks within just a few days of each other.

On Oct. 18, 2022, Pat remembers coming home from work and complaining to her daughter, Melony Pryor, that she had really bad indigestion.

“I talked to her on the phone and could tell she was not feeling good, and something told me it was more than she let on, but I tried not to worry too much,” Pryor said. “I called her again around eight, and she was short of breath and felt worse. I begged her to go to the ER, and she finally agreed to go to Saint Thomas Highlands, in Sparta.”

By the time Pat arrived at the emergency room, she had classic heart attack symptoms, reporting pain in the center of her chest, arm pain, shoulder pain, and pain in her jaw. She was also nauseous, and her back hurt.  The local hospital ran a few tests and made the decision to transfer Pat to Murfreesboro, but the Saint Thomas Cath Lab wouldn’t be her final destination for the day.

“We knew by then she was having a heart attack, but we thought they were going to do stents. The doctor who did the test met me in the waiting room, and I immediately knew from his face that something was wrong, and it was very serious,” Pryor said and expressed that she was filled with fear in those moments. “We found out she had three major blockages, and I could tell the doctor was holding something else back, but I think I stopped hearing him anyway when he told me that he was sending her to Nashville to try and find a surgeon who would be willing to do a bypass on her.”

With a whirlwind of tests, terrifying moments, long days and longer nights in the ICU, and continuously changing diagnoses as Pat’s always-changing heart rate kept throwing new things at nurses and doctors, she was finally scheduled to have bypass surgery, on Oct. 26.

During the entire time, Pat’s husband, Wayne, had stayed by her side, until two days before her surgery. At that time, Pat convinced her husband that she was in good hands and that he should go back to Sparta and get some rest. She gave him a list of things to bring back for after her surgery when she would prepare to go home.

“I stayed with mom Sunday night, and he was going to come back Tuesday morning, the day before her surgery. Instead, around 1:00, on Monday, Oct. 24, he called me and was panicked telling me he didn’t feel good,” Pryor said. “I asked him what was wrong, and he made me promise not to tell mom because he was worried it would set her back.”

Wayne reported having chest pain, tightness and squeezing in his chest. He was also lightheaded, sweating, nauseous, and dizzy. He refused to go to the emergency room, afraid that he would not be able to be present when his wife underwent surgery in two days.

That’s when Pryor said she called in reinforcements, sending her mother-in-law to check Wayne’s blood pressure and then calling her brother, Tim Seibers, to go convince Wayne that he needed to get medical attention. After a day of up-and- down blood pressure readings, Wayne continuing to feel worse, and Pryor holding back tears while she left her mother’s room at the hospital in Nashville each time she got a call with an update, Wayne finally agreed to go to the hospital.

“I told him I was going to have to tell mom because he was still refusing to get help,” Pryor said, as she pulled out the ‘I’m telling on you’ card to get her stepfather to seek help. “He finally agreed to let my brother take him to the ER.”

 In active heart attack when he arrived at the hospital, Wayne was sent to Cookeville Regional Medical Center to get the help that would save his life. After finding that he had an artery with 100 percent blockage and having a stent placed, he began to recover and was moved out of ICU within 24 hours.

So, what about Pat? How did this all affect her healing? Pryor and her brother made the decision to not tell her what was happening with her husband, and they say it was the hardest thing they ever had to do.

“My brother and I decided to keep it from her until Wayne was able to talk to her himself. This is what Wayne wanted as well. It was tough because my mom knows me better than I know myself. I know she sensed I was upset, but I lied to her and kept her calm like I promised Wayne I would do,” Pryor said. “The next day, once I knew he was going to be OK, I spoke with my mom’s nurse and asked them to come with me to tell her.  She was upset and her heart rate spiked, which terrified me. I kept saying over and over he’s OK.”

But he wasn’t okay, although they didn’t know that at the time.

“The next morning, Wayne called me and sounded good, but, at the end of the conversation, he cut it short. He sounded short of breath and scared. I thought it was weird enough that I called my brother who was in the parking lot at CRMC because he was there to take him home,” Pyror said. “My brother called me back a short time later, and he was panicking. He told me to leave the room with mom, he told me that my stepdad had went into cardiac arrest and was in emergency surgery. They said he wasn’t breathing and had no pulse. He was scared and kept asking me what we were going to do.”

While Wayne survived the surgery, the doctor’s told Pryor and her brother that Wayne had a 50/50 chance of having experienced brain injury due to lack of oxygen, but that wasn’t the case.

“Wayne woke up from the surgery, and he knew everything. He knew what had happened to him, and he had called for help. He later told me he remembers feeling a warm liquid sensation inside his chest, hanging up the phone with me, calling for the nurse, and laying back and closing his eyes on the pillow,” Pryor said.

That warm, liquid sensation? It was blood. His heart had been bleeding.

“His heart surgeon told us that what happened to our stepdad is not usually survivable. His heart ruptured, and, in his words, he said that the bottom basically blew out of it,” Pryor said.

Pryor said they were extremely thankful the surgeon was there and knew exactly what he was looking at and was able to quickly place a bovine patch on Wayne’s heart.

“He no doubt saved his life,” Pryor said. “We were told if our stepdad had been anywhere else, he would not be here. Even if he had been in the parking lot of the hospital, it would’ve been too far.”

Pryor said that keeping Wayne’s setback from her mother was much harder.

“I think the hardest part was knowing that my momma thought I was keeping something awful about her surgery from her. She thought I was afraid because she was dying. She cried and apologized for worrying me,” Pryor said, recalling the initial moments after hearing that Wayne was back in surgery. “I had to clean my face, steel my nerves and walk back into my mother’s room and pretend nothing happened. It was the hardest thing I have ever done.”

Pryor and her brother somehow managed to keep the information from their mother for a few days, but eventually had to tell her what had happened as she was beginning to worry that Wayne wasn’t answering her phone calls. She had thought he should be home from the hospital, having no idea of the setback he had experienced.

“I told my mom what happened a few days afterwards because she kept trying to call him and was getting upset,” Pryor said. “She thought he was coming home that day, too.”

After more than 10 days since the start of the heart attacks when Pat was taken to the hospital, she was released and was able to be reunited with her husband.

“My mom was released first, and all she talked about was getting to the hospital to my stepdad. They had talked to each other on Facetime, and it was the sweetest thing,” Pryor said. “The day I drove her to the hospital to him was so special. They both needed that so much, and I truly feel that they survived because of their will to be together again.

“My brother and I had not seen each other in over a week, and we hugged, and both cried seeing our parents together again. Although neither of us ever said it out loud, I think we both feared it would not happen again in this life,” she said. “We were scared for each other; we were scared for our parents. We needed to be together, too, so we could lean on each other for support, but we had to be in two different hospitals with two different parents. I wanted to see my stepdad, but I could not leave my mom, [and] he felt the same. He wanted to see mom but could not leave my stepdad. Our spouses had to be at home to take care of our children, so it was just me and my brother. We worried for each other and for our parents. The fear of the unknown was always, there but we also worried that we were not making the right decisions for our parents.”

Two days later, Wayne was released from the hospital.

“My biggest concern was not being able to be with my wife and not being there to comfort her when she was scared,” Wayne said, admitting that his entire focus was on getting back to Pat and that he had felt guilt in not being able to be with her.

Of course, Pat was only concerned with his health and not upset that he had not made it back to Nashville. She is just happy that they are both home together now, saying that she was upset about all the worry that the whole ordeal had placed on her children and what the future would look like for all of them.

“My thoughts and concerns were how hard it was on my kids to see me like that and them being afraid I was going to die after losing their dad already,” Pat said as she referenced the year that Pryor and her brother had to experience watching their biological father be diagnosed and rapidly decline, losing his life just weeks later from cancer. “I was worried about Wayne being so far away from me, and I was worried about paying the house payment and hospital bills, but mostly I worried for my kids to be without me.”

But this holiday season, Pat and Wayne and their kids and grandchildren will all be together, something for which they are very grateful.

“I would say that the whole thing was like a bad dream that just kept getting worse. I leaned heavy on my faith and the belief that it was all God’s will, and whatever He had in store was going to make us all stronger and closer for it,” Pryor’s brother, Tim Seibers, said about the past weeks. “This holiday season is definitely going to be a little different in the fact that it came so close to not ever being the same. It’s hard enough this time of year without Dad after what we went through during the holidays, in 2017. The older you get the more you appreciate the little things anyway and pay more attention to what God is doing in your life. I read something somewhere once that said, ‘I asked God for courage and he gave me scary situations to overcome, I asked for strength and God gave me heavy loads to carry.’ Everything happens for a reason even if we don’t understand it. The love I have for them has not changed! But my appreciation for the time we have together has grown. “

As for Pryor, she said that she is overcome with emotion when she thinks of everything her family has been through.

“I bought my mom a shirt to wear home from the hospital that says she is brave, strong, and resilient. They are both [Pat and Wayne] all of those things and so much more. I am so proud to be their daughter and so thankful for every minute I spend with them. I thank God for blessing me with more time with them. I am forever thankful for our extended family, friends, coworkers, and church families who helped to carry us through the last few weeks. My brother and I have grown closer over the ordeal, and I am so thankful for him as well,” Pryor said. “We are too busy as a society and easily forget how important family really is until we are faced with the reality of losing one of them. I never want to take that for granted again.”

NOTE: While Pat and Wayne have medical insurance, Pryor said the huge hospital bills have begun rolling in. The family has set up a GoFundMe page if anyone feels led to give anything to help.

“Between their savings and money we have raised so far, we have enough to pay the bills through December, but they will not be able to return to work until sometime in February or maybe later,” Pryor said.

The link for the account is                   


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