Houston man wants to honor father’s memory through education about aortic dissection

Houston man wants to honor father’s memory through education about aortic dissection

awoolen@macon.comJanuary 8, 2014 

  • How to help
    To donate to the John Ritter Foundation in honor of George Ealer, visit www.crowdrise.com/inhonorofgeorgeealer/ fundraiser/timealer

WARNER ROBINS -- George Ealer went to the gym every day. He competed in the Georgia Golden Olympics.

Both were signs of a healthy, active lifestyle, but he didn’t know something was lurking under the surface.

The 73-year-old called his son, Tim Ealer, because he thought he had a heart attack. What actually happened was an aortic dissection, which is when an aneurysm tears.

Ealer’s happened in the aorta, the artery that pumps blood from the heart to all of the organs in the body.

In the following weeks, George Ealer went through emergency surgery, the loss of the use of his legs and two bouts of pneumonia.

He died Aug. 17.

“The date is seared in my mind,” Tim Ealer said.

Ealer is a runner like his parents. He wanted something positive to come from his father’s death. So he’s raising money to help educate people about aortic dissections.

He was an alternate for the New York City Marathon team where he raised close to $1,000 for the John Ritter Foundation. The team raised more than $119,000.

The foundation, named after actor John Ritter who died in 2003 from aortic dissection, promotes education, support and research for aortic disease.

Ealer hopes the community rallies around the cause as both his father and mother, who were married for 47 years, were very active in Houston County.

Mother Mary Ealer still helps with the Georgia Golden Olympics, which are held in Warner Robins. George Ealer organized Red Cross blood drives at Christ United Methodist Church.

“He’s the blood drive king,” Tim Ealer said.

Ealer said if he could save one person, he feels he would have done a service.

To raise money, he might try to run throughout Georgia. Ealer estimated he runs about 1,000-1,500 miles a year.

He is also a part of the Middle Georgia Sports Car Club of America and has proposed that proceeds from a local race be donated to the John Ritter Foundation.

More than anything, Ealer wants people to get tested.

A CT scan will detect aneurysms, which are a ballooning or bulging of a vein.

“Aortic aneurysms are the 13th leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for an estimated 15,000-20,000 deaths annually,” according to the John Ritter Foundation website.

The cause of aneurysms can be linked to genetics and also other factors such as high blood pressure and smoking.

Tim Ealer had a full body CT scan, which indicated he had no aneurysms. Both of his brothers, John and Jim Ealer, are planning to get CT scans.

Though the procedure “isn’t cheap,” Tim Ealer thinks it is worth it if the risk factors are there.

“If one person gets checked, it may save a life.” he said.

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