Sonny Nunn: a Love for Life, and a Love for Providence 

For Sonny Nunn, Providence Health is a family affair. When he underwent a heart catheterization and bypass surgery in July 1985, his cardiac surgeon was Dr. John Sutton, Jr. Almost 30 years later, after experiencing some breathing issues, Sonny underwent a second catheterization and bypass in December 2014. This time, his surgeon was Dr. John Sutton III.

When he arrived in his hospital room on that second visit, the mother of a waitress at one of his favorite lunch spots – a Providence staff member – was standing in the doorway, waiting to greet him.

Sonny’s father has also had bypass surgery at Providence.

“I wouldn’t recommend anywhere else,” Sonny says. “I love Providence.”

The results of Sonny’s first heart catheterization in 1985, when he was 38, sent him immediately into life-saving surgery.

“It was one of those ‘do not pass go’ things,” he recalls with a chuckle. “They sent me straight down the hall. I was really scared, but the nursing staff did a great job. They put me at ease.”

Sonny’s next time at Providence went a bit differently. His second catheterization showed that he needed a second bypass, but his cardiologist, Dr. Rhinehart permitted him to go on a planned trip to Walt Disney World first.

“Now, my grandchildren won’t ever let me go back to Disney World without a cart to ride on,” he jokes, “because you get put at the front of all the lines.”

Following his second bypass in December 2014, Sonny completed 20 weeks of cardiac rehabilitation at Providence. The beneficial exercise and meaningful relationships he’s received at rehab have kept him coming back far past his rehab completion date.

“I stayed on to exercise four days a week,” he says of the routine he still keeps today. “We have a good crowd. Once a week, we go to lunch together. Cardiac rehab does a lot for you after surgery.”

With two grandchildren, age 12 and 10, Sonny can use that extra energy. Sonny’s wife picks the boys up every day after school and brings them home, where Sonny and the boys usually play soccer.

“I’m 70, but I feel 50,” he marvels. “Being around the crowd at rehab helps out a lot. The nurses in cardiac rehab will keep you laughing.”

Soccer games with the grandchildren aren’t the only thing that keeps Sonny feeling young. He still attends every University of Georgia football home game.

“One of my nurses was a Georgia fan, and that helped me, too,” he says with a laugh.

This is part of a series called “FIRST in the Midlands. FIRST for you.” highlighting patients who received procedures that were introduced to the region by Providence Health. In 1974, Providence Health was the FIRST in the Midlands to perform heart catheterization. 

See what other cardiovascular technology Providence introduced to the Midlands here