Patient travels from Minnesota for Georgia Heart Institute’s first robotic heart surgery

Bill and Karen Mayfield, who traveled from Minnesota to Gainesville for Bill’s robotic heart surgery, wait to be discharged from Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) on February 9, 2023 - just two days after Bill’s procedure. Bill was the first patient to ever receive robotic heart surgery at NGMC. (photo submitted)

Northeast Georgia Health System is celebrating a major milestone in cardiovascular care after a performing its first robotic heart surgery last week.

Dr. T. Sloane Guy performed the procedure on a Minnesota man, Bill Mayfield, at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville.

“The surgery went so well that Bill was able to leave the hospital just two days after the surgery, and he’ll be able to fly home to Minnesota after his follow-up appointment this week,” says Dr. Guy, the director of Minimally Invasive and Robotic Heart Surgery at Northeast Georgia Physicians Group (NGPG) Cardiovascular & Thoracic Surgery.

Heart surgeries that used to require long incisions and months of recovery can now be performed in Gainesville through tiny 8-millimeter incisions – about the diameter of an ink pen – with much faster recovery times.

Robotic heart surgery is offered through the Georgia Heart Institute which is run by NGHS.

‘A totally different experience’

Mayfield and his wife, Karen, were in Georgia visiting their son when he fell ill. NGPG Urgent Care in Dahlonega referred him to Dr. Guy, who explained to Mayfield that he needed surgery. He told him about the less invasive robotic option, and the couple returned home to Minnesota to research the procedure.

Bill Mayfield had a follow up appointment with Dr. T. Sloane Guy on February 13, 2023, six days after his robotic heart surgery and his return home to Minnesota. (NGHS).

“I read that Dr. Guy was one of the best robotic heart surgeons in the country,” Bill Mayfield recalls. “It made the most sense for us to make the trip back down from Minnesota, and it was definitely worth it. Just two days after the surgery, I was leaving the hospital and feeling great.”

Mayfield says he can’t believe what the surgical team was able to do through “these tiny incisions.” He remembers when his brother had open heart surgery and says, “this is a totally different experience.”

“Robotic surgery patients can have a significantly shorter recovery period,” says Dr. Guy. “This means they can get back to their normal activities sooner than open heart surgery patients.”

“Whether the surgery is done using a minimally invasive approach or an open approach, our primary goal is providing the best possible treatment plan and outcome for each individual patient,” says Dr. Clifton Hastings, medical director of NGPG Cardiovascular & Thoracic Surgery. “We’re collaborating with the cardiologists of Georgia Heart Institute to coordinate care across specialties, providing patients a more seamless patient experience.”

For more information about NGPG Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery, call 770-219-7099. To learn more about the Georgia Heart Institute, visit or call 770-534-2020.

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