Rosalind G New Jersey Jazz Singer's Dream Comes True this Mother's Day

"I’m forever grateful to God, Dr. Sardari and the Newark Beth Israel emergency team for my survival that night."

Enjoy listening to Rosalind sing and talk about getting back on stage.

After lifesaving cardiac surgery, a local jazz singer is back where she belongs on stage.

September 15, 2020, was supposed to have been a special day for then 71-year-old jazz singer Rosalind Grant. It was her brother’s birthday which would end with a jam session in Jersey City, where the Irvington resident would wow the crowd with jazz favorites.

But on the drive home, Grant suddenly got sick and began vomiting uncontrollably and had to pull over.

“At first, I thought it was food poisoning,” Grant recalls. She continued to drive but had to stop several more times along the way and felt so ill that she thought about detouring to a hospital along her route.

“Something told me to keep going,” she says. “I felt like God tapped me on the shoulder and turned me home, closer to Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. I’m so grateful for that.”

Once home, Grant sat down briefly with her son, Kenyon, hoping that the vomiting would subside. But she began to feel worse, and Kenyon called an ambulance to transport his mother to NBI.

Though Grant doesn’t remember the trip itself, she does recall that when she arrived at the Emergency Department, she expected she’d be treated for food poisoning.

“I had no idea how serious my condition was,” she says. In addition to the vomiting, she told the ED team that she’d been experiencing back pain and chest pressure. The emergency medicine physician ordered a CT scan, which confirmed the suspected diagnosis: aortic dissection, a dangerous and potentially deadly condition that occurs when there is a tear in the inner layer of the body’s main artery, the aorta.

Frederic Sardari, MD, Vice Chairman of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery and a member of RWJBarnabas Health Medical Group, was called in to perform the complex and risky surgical procedure to repair the tear.

Frederic Sardari, MD
Frederic Sardari, MD

As she was being prepped for emergency surgery, Grant recalls feeling an overwhelming sense of calm, despite the serious diagnosis.

“I remember telling Dr. Sardari, ‘God and I got this,’” she says.

“Rosalind had a partial tear of the aorta, the main artery that comes out of the heart,” says Dr. Sardari. “This procedure is especially challenging because the part of the aorta that tears is between the heart and the brain, so you must be extremely careful not to cause damage to either.”

The aortic dissection repair surgery was Grant’s only hope—and the clock was ticking. In fact, says Dr. Sardari, “About a quarter of patients never make it to the hospital and die before they get there.”

The surgery, which generally takes six to seven hours, is especially complicated because it is usually done, according to Dr. Sardari, by stimulating deep hypothermia in the patient to stop the heart.

“The heart and lung machine pumps the blood and cools it down from 37 degrees Celsius to 18 degrees Celsius,” Dr. Sardari explains. “The brain and heart can survive for a period without blood flow so we can make the repair. We start circulation again when the repair is complete by warming the patient’s blood back up.”

Dr. Sardari was able to make the repair. Grant’s surgery was a success, and, thanks to the meticulous care and expertise of the nursing staff in NBI’s critical care cardiac ICU, her recovery was smooth.

Rosalind at the piano “I’m feeling great, and I no longer have high blood pressure,” says Grant, who’s also lost more than 50 pounds since her surgery. “My mobility gets better every day, too,” she says. “I’ve made drastic lifestyle changes and cut out sugar, junk food and salt.”

Grant is back at church, where she got her start as a singer at age 5, and she’s once again engaging in her passion—jazz singing. She also continues to do breathing exercises, which have helped her regain and maintain her stamina and her voice.

On May 8 of this year—Mother’s Day, which was also her 73rd birthday—Grant made what turned out to be a triumphant “ comeback,” performing at Moore’s Place in Jersey City, her first gig since her surgery.

Grant says she’s glad she heeded that “tap on the shoulder.” If not for the Emergency Department’s quick and accurate diagnosis, Dr. Sardari’s expert surgery and the excellent post-surgical care she received at NBI, Grant likely would not have survived, let alone made it to the stage.

Dr. Sardari believes Grant’s determination and positive outlook played a huge role in her healing as well.

“I’m forever grateful to God, Dr. Sardari and the Newark Beth Israel emergency team for my survival that night,” Grant says. “I didn’t know that I almost died. I just wanted to get back to my life and be able to sing again.”

Learn more about Heart and Vascular Care at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center.
Find a cardiovascular specialist online or call 888-724-7123.