UF Health surgeon performs triple bypass on best friend

Jacksonville, FL. — UF Health cardiac surgeon Dr. Jack Pirris, Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery, potentially saved his best friend’s life after telling him to get his heart checked out and later performing triple bypass surgery on him.

“Even though I’m relatively healthy, I have been, I’ve always exercised regularly,” Buddy Webster said.

Webster does everything right: he exercises regularly and maintains a healthy and balanced diet.

But after losing his father and brother to heart problems, he could never be too sure.

None other than his best friend of 15 years, Dr. Jack Pirris, nudged Webster to get his heart checked out about a year ago.

“Buddy’s as close to me as my brother,” Pirris said.

Pirris says Webster underwent a stress test and CT scan, and later a catheterization of his heart where doctors found buildup in his arteries. “We were happy we found it before there was any damage to the heart, or God forbid, he would’ve died,” Pirris explained.

The next day, Pirris performed a triple bypass on Webster.

“Nobody wants to operate on their best friend, we’re too close, I was very worried,” Pirris recalled.

Pirris says UF Health is the only program in the region that routinely performs multi-arterial revascularization -- an operation in which surgeons do a bypass by way of the arteries versus the veins.

Pirris says the results will last Webster 20 to 30 years.

Dr. Pirris warns people to not skip those check-ups at the doctor’s office.

He says patients are afraid of catching COVID-19 at the doctor’s office. He’s noticed patient volume has gone down by about 15 percent at UF Health.

“Far more people have died from not going to the doctor to get health care problems taken care of than have actually died of COVID,” Pirris said, citing medical journals written across the country.

As for Webster, he’s glad he listened to Pirris, and wants people to know how important it is to stay on top of your health.

“You might feel healthy, you might look healthy, in terms of exercise you might feel great, and yet if you do have the family history issues, you need to be careful about it, You need to see a doctor,” Webster said.