Freeman News

Freeman Patient Reunites with Surgeon After Lifesaving Operation

July 15, 2021

Former Highway Patrol Investigator Shares Story of Heart Valve Replacement

Joplin, Mo – I was deteriorating very rapidly,” explained Freeman Health System heart patient Miles Parks. “My oxygen level was way down. My kidneys and my liver were shutting down. I was within minutes of dying. The way I understand it, I had only a 2% chance of living – surviving. So, I survived only because of the great care I’ve had here.”

Parks is currently in cardiac rehab at Freeman after having mitral valve replacement and another valve repaired by Freeman Health System cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Lee, and he’s looking forward to reuniting with the doctor who helped saved his life.

That reunion will take place at 9:00 am, July 19, in the Freeman Heart and Vascular Institute library. Media are invited to share in the reunion and hear from Parks, Dr. Lee and Dr. Frank Kim, Parks’ cardiologist.

“Some cardiac issues are a real challenge and require a time-critical diagnosis,” said Dr. Kim who was at the hospital when Parks arrived with heart issues that had mimicked pneumonia back in March. “There was a small window of opportunity to diagnose and get him to surgery.”

“When Dr. Kim called me to see if I could assist Mr. Parks, one of the first things he said to me was, ‘this patient will probably die no matter what we do,’ said Dr. Jeffery Lee, Freeman cardiothoracic surgeon. “We reviewed all his studies and then met with the patient and his family to discuss his options. The options were essentially very high-risk emergency double valve heart surgery or death within the hour.”

Knowing the risks, the patient and his family elected to try for life. Dr. Lee called the operating room team and rushed Mr. Parks to surgery.

“He was so sick that shortly after being placed on the operating room table, his blood pressure dropped into the 50s, and I had to quickly open his chest and place him on heart-lung bypass,” said Dr. Lee. “Luckily due to the true professionalism, expertise and experience of the entire Freeman Cardiac Surgery team, we were able to pull Mr. Parks through, and he did magnificently. I was so proud of him and our entire team and thought the community should know the quality of care available at Freeman. World-class cardiac surgery is available in Joplin, Missouri.”

Parks, a former Missouri highway patrol investigator, said he ran and lifted weights all his life but had noticed he couldn’t run quite as far or as fast. He now realizes that was an early indicator of a heart problem that came as a complete shock. Parks is now working on regaining his strength.




About Freeman Health System

Locally owned, not-for-profit and nationally recognized, Freeman Health System includes Freeman Hospital West, Freeman Hospital East, Freeman Neosho Hospital and Ozark Center – the area’s largest provider of behavioral health services – as well as two urgent care clinics, dozens of physician clinics and a variety of specialty services. In 2020, Freeman earned dozens of individual awards for medical excellence and patient safety from CareChex®, a quality rating system that helps consumers evaluate healthcare providers. U.S. News & World Report named Freeman Health System the Best Hospital in Southwest Missouri for 2020-2021. With more than 320 physicians on staff representing more than 80 specialties, Freeman provides cancer care, heart care, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopedics, children’s services and women’s services. Additionally, Freeman is the only Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in a 70-mile radius. For more information, visit