When Ed Fleming agreed to go skydiving with his grandson for his 18th birthday, little did he know that the scariest part would be the required medical check-up before he could make the jump.
The grandfather from Wimberley, Texas, was all set for a bucket list item with grandson Cameron Kotek in the first week of August when he went in for the testing required by Skydive San Marcos for anyone over 65 who wants to jump.
Fleming, 74, whose story was first reported by NBC affiliate KXAN, was driving home from his stress test when he got a call from doctors telling him to get to Heart Hospital of Austin as soon as possible. Tests revealed five blocked arteries, necessitating a quintuple bypass performed by Dr. Brannon Hyde only three days later.
"I just had no indication that I had any problem,'' Fleming told TODAY. "No shortness of breath or chest pains. It was a surprise, and I'm sure relieved they caught it before I went flinging myself out of an airplane.
"It was a disaster averted."
One of the doctors assisting Hyde was a former U.S. Army Airborne soldier, who let Fleming know how close he came to potentially dying.
"He was looking at the clogged arteries and said that with the acceleration of the first (skydiving) jump, he didn't think I would make it to the ground alive. It truly was right in the nick of time."
Fleming has recovered from the surgery and hopes his close call motivates other people his age to get regular heart check-ups even if they aren't experiencing any issues.
As for skydiving? Fleming has March 16, 2017, circled on his calendar. It's his 75th birthday, and he has a promise to keep with his grandson.
"I plan on going skydiving with him as planned,'' Fleming said. "I feel great, and I'm just extremely lucky."
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