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高被介绍到德州医科大学国际心血管系主任Richard Smalling博土那里，在6411 Fannin的荷门纪念医院心脏和心血管研究所，Smalling在高的心脏中放了四个支架。13天后，高连续第二次羸得世界冠军。但是2009年，高旧病复发，Smalling在高的心脏中放了另外二个支架，在腿上放了一个。几个月后，即10月，在赫茨曼世界老年运动会上，高蠃得了连续第五次的三金。
Southwest Houston resident Rushan Gao is an 88-year-old, twice-married father of three and grandfather of one who has six stents in his heart and more than 80 gold medals to his name.
While Gao is the current gold medal senior citizen champion in local, state, national and international table tennis championships for his age group, he's lucky to be alive.
But he is, thanks to the efforts of two cardiovascular physicians and his wife, Jiali Hu.
It all began in 2006, when during a game of table tennis, Gao felt pain in his left shoulder and back. He went to a doctor to treat the back pain, but his wife told him she didn't think his back was the problem.
“My wife checked my pulse and said ‘you have heart problems' and insisted I attend the heart doctor,” Gao said.
Gao visited Dr. Jianwei Feng at JF Southwest Heart Clinic in Chinatown.
A nuclear scan found blockages in four major arteries of Gao's heart.
“He is a lucky man because he was playing ping pong for hours with large, severe heart damage that could have killed him instantly,” Feng said. “One of his arteries was 90 percent blocked. I couldn't believe he was doing strenuous exercise with this heavy blockage.”
Gao puts it a little differently.
“He (Feng) told me ‘oh this is dangerous,' ” Gao said. “He told me my heart vessel is broken.”
Gao was referred to Dr. Richard Smalling, director of Interventional Cardiovascular Medicine at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston.
At the Memorial Hermann Heart and Vascular Institute, 6411 Fannin, Smalling placed four stents in Gao's heart arteries.
Thirteen days later, Gao won his second consecutive international table top championship.
But then Gao's symptoms came back in 2009, so Smalling placed another two stents in Gao's heart, and one in Gao's leg.
A few months later, in October, Gao won his fifth consecutive set of gold medals at the Huntsman World Senior Games.
Originally from China, Gao has played table tennis since he was a youngster.
When he got to the university in Shanghai, he played with his school team.
And when the 72-year-old Gao moved to Houston in 1993, he picked it up again.
Now, Gao has more than 85 medals.
His wall of fame at home not only holds accolades and recognition from his days as a professional irrigation engineer in China, but also medals in table tennis and bridge.
Gao plays table tennis three times a week at the Bayland Community Center, and in the evenings at the Chinese Community Center. All in all, he plays five or six times a week.
Gao plays bridge too, as a way to exercise his mind. Not only does he play, he has taught other seniors how to play at the Tracy Gee Community Center as well as the Chinese Community Center.
“You have to exercise,” Gao said. “I encourage other seniors to exercise. Any kind of exercise.”
Feng and Smalling think Gao is a great example to others, always practicing what he preaches.
And Gao thinks they're great — for saving his life. So he recently presented them with two of his hard-won gold medals.
Smalling said he was honored by the gesture.
“Having never won any type of gold medal, it was hard to believe he would part with any of his,” said Smalling, who plans to find a prominent place to display the medal at the Memorial Hermann Heart and Vascular Institute. “It inspires me to perform to the best of my abilities.”
Gao gave a third gold medal to his wife who he said has saved his heart in more ways than one.
In the first place, Gao said, she agreed to marry him six years ago.
“She's much younger than me,” Gao proudly said.
Hu is 65.
The second way she saved his heart was the day she felt his pulse.
Hu is happy Gao gave her one of his gold medals, but she feels she didn't do anything extraordinary that day.
“It's my duty to know when he is sick,” she said.
“They are all my lifesavers,” Gao said. “Without any of them I wouldn't be here.”
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