AUSTIN, Texas — Former Longhorn Keith Moreland earned All-American status three times at Texas, played 12 years in the MLB and won a World Series with the Philadelphia Phillies. But in May of 2022, Moreland suffered a near-death experience.
"I was playing in a golf tournament with my son," said Moreland. "It was practice round day, I've always been healthy, an ex-professional athlete ... and I blacked-out walking to the car. I collapsed, unconscious, I was taken to the hospital."
Moreland was diagnosed with aortic stenosis, or a malfunctioning of the valve in the aorta.
"This could have been fatal," said Moreland's surgeon, Dr. Jonathan A. Yang, surgical director of the Advanced Heart Failure Program at the Heart Hospital of Austin and a cardiothoracic surgeon at CTVS.
Correcting the issue required surgical intervention.
"It was a combination actually," said Dr. Yang. "It was almost three operations in one."
"At that point, you just say, 'OK, I'm alive.' That's the first thing that goes through your mind," said Moreland. "Dr. Smith, my cardiologist, and Dr. Yang, my surgeon – how do you say 'thank you' to the people who saved your life?"
What made Moreland's health scare more confusing is that he did not feel any symptoms before collapsing on his walk from the golf course.
"[We] didn't notice anything that morning, had a good practice round with some good buddies," said Moreland's son, Cole. "Obviously, later that evening didn't go well."
Dr. Yang told us it is not "common" for aortic stenosis to progress this much without symptoms, but it is possible, and thousands of Americans are likely walking around with similar symptom-free conditions.
For Moreland, the hardest part of the ordeal was being unable to fulfill his obligations.
"You're hired by an employer to be some place and you can't be there," said Moreland. "That's very frustrating."
Moreland, who is the color commentator for Texas baseball games, missed the rest of the 2022 baseball season, but after months of rehab, he returned to the booth.
"I'm fortunate that a long surgery and a rebuilt bovine valve in my aortic valve has allowed me to get back to work," said Moreland, "and doing most of the things I've done before, and I feel like I'm going to get to everything I was doing before – but it's going to take a little time."
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