The Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church relates that on April 18, 2004, Thomas Sunday, His Eminence Metropolitan Valentine celebrated the Divine Liturgy at Dormition Skete. Serving with him were His Grace Bishop Gregory of Denver and Colorado, Hegumen George, Hieromonk Andrew, the priests Dionysi McGowan and John Claypool, and Archdeacon Peter. After the liturgy was ended, there was a trapeza in the monastery refectory to which all of the monastery brotherhood and all of the faithful were invited.

After the trapeza, the clergy and some of the faithful met with the Metropolitan in order to discuss questions relating to the life and activities of members of the R.O.A.C. in the USA. This meeting lasted until late in the evening.

At 11:30 PM, Vladyka Valentine became ill. The brotherhood of the monastery feared that Vladyka was having a heart attack and called 911. Vladyka was taken by ambulance to the emergency room of the hospital in Salida, which is the closest hospital to the monastery. After an initial examination, he was admitted to the hospital. The following day, Dr. Amatelli, the cardiologist there, decided to transfer Vladyka to the cardiology center of Penrose Hospital in Colorado Springs.

Almost immediately after arrival, Dr. William Barry, a cardiologist, did an angiogram of Vladyka’s heart, and determined that Vladyka needed surgery very soon. The operation was scheduled for Wednesday, April 21st. It was performed by Dr. James T. Anderson, one of the leading heart surgeons in the country. He was assisted by the anesthesiologist, Dr. James Taylor. The open heart surgery took about nine hours. Four of the bypasses were made from arteries taken from Vladyka’s arms, and one was made from a vein taken from one of his legs.

Immediately after surgery, Vladyka was transferred to the ICU. After a couple of hours, the nurse noticed a greater than usual amount of drainage coming from Vladyka’s wound and called the doctor. Dr. Anderson returned to the hospital and after looking over Vladyka’s situation, decided to reopen the chest cavity and look for the source of the drainage in order to stop it. This second open heart surgery took about three hours. Dr. Anderson was aided this time by the anesthesiologist, Dr. Martin Read.

For the next three days, Vladyka was in the ICU. On Saturday, April 24th, Vladyka was transferred to a room on the ninth floor, where all of the heart patients are sent for recovery. However, he was only there for about three hours. He became extremely ill. His temperature rose to about 105 F., and he became delirious. The doctors were concerned about the possibility of a stroke. Vladyka was hurriedly returned to the ICU. Then there followed a whole range of tests. Many specialists were called in including: Dr. John Newcomer, a pulmonolgist, Dr. Donald Strandberg, an infectious disease specialist, and Dr. Thomas D. McDonald, a neurologist. They were able to determine that there had been no stroke, but in order to prevent one from taking place, the temperature of Vladyka’s body had to be lowered quickly. Vladyka was wrapped in a special blanket through which cold water was passed. In this way, wrapped in a near freezing blanket, Vladyka lay throughout that entire terrible night, and the temperature slowly returned to normal. As a result of all of the tests, the doctors were able to determine that Vladyka had succumbed to a staph infection of his blood (staphylococcus aureus). A course of antibiotics was ordered in order to overcome it.

Thanks to the antibiotics, Vladyka’s condition gradually began to improve. Several days later, it was decided that he was in good enough condition that he could be returned to the ninth floor. During this time the following doctors assisted Vladyka with their expertise: Dr. David Albrecht, cardiologist, Dr. Michael Barber, cardiologist, Dr. James Simon, Urologist, Dr. James Stewart, surgeon, Dr. Bulgarin, pulmonologist, Nicole Montoya, physician’s assistant, Christine Poprocki, physician’s assistant, and Svetlana Gorbunova, physician’s assistant.

After several days of tests, the source of the infection was located. During the first open heart surgery, a special balloon pump for assisting the beating of the heart had been inserted through a catheter in the groin. This wound is where the infection developed. A minor operation was ordered to open and clean out this wound. Dr. John Randono was the surgeon for this procedure. He was assisted by the anesthesiologist, Dr. John Marda.

Finally, the infectious disease specialist, Dr. Donald Strandberg decided that Vladyka could be released from the hospital, but under certain conditions. It would be necessary for Vladyka to continue the intravenous antibiotic therapy for six weeks, and it would be better for that to be done somewhere close by the hospital. And so, on May 5th, Vladyka moved to the house of the local priest, Fr. Dionysi McGowan, where he continues to receive the whole course of the needed antibiotics.

In connection with the colossal efforts on the part of the doctors and staff involved with the treatment of Metropolitan Valentine (Anatoly Rusantsov), the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church, together with the clergy, monastics, and faithful, not only in Russia, but from around the world, express their deeply felt gratitude for saving the life of the head of our Church. We offer our redoubled prayers that the Lord grant strength and vigor to all of the doctors and staff of Penrose Hospital, that they might be able to continue the work of their noble calling. Your labors in this regard serve as a model and example for all of the doctors of the world to emulate, no matter what their nationality or faith might be.

The Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox (Autonomous) Church