Chief Meteorologist Glenn Burns recovering after heart surgery

ATLANTA — You may have noticed Chief Meteorologist Glenn Burns hasn’t been on Channel 2 Action News for the past week. That’s because he underwent heart surgery earlier this month.

It all started when Glenn went to his primary care doctor for the physical that he gets every year.

“When I walked in and talked to him, he told me he had been having some fatigue when he was doing his exercises,” Piedmont’s Dr. Andy Brown said.

When he listened to Glenn’s heart, Brown heard a murmur.

“He had a nice history of getting his physicals on a regular basis. So I had that luxury of looking back and being able to know that he had never had a heart murmur before,” Brown said.

That caught Glenn by surprise.

“I get a physical every year and I’ve had a clean bill of health,” Burns said. “This last physical, the doctor was listening to my chest and he said, ‘I don’t like the sound of that.’ And I’m going, ‘Whoa, what do you mean? I’m in good shape and what is going on?’ He said, ‘Well, I want to do a couple of tests.’”

From there, Burns said, “They injected dye into my veins and they did this MRI and CT scan and put something down my throat to take a little picture.”

Doctors noticed a significant leak in one of Glenn’s aortic valves.

“Apparently my aortic valve is pretty much shot. So there’s more blood going back in my heart than out. That causes your heart to enlarge, and that would create some serious damage down the road,” Burns said.

“There was probably just a mild abnormality of one of his leaflets. So over his lifetime, the force of that blood pumping across the valve caused a little wear and tear on the valve,” Piedmont’s Dr. Randy Martin said.

Emory Saint Joseph’s Dr. Edward Chen replaced Glenn’s faulty valve with a pig valve.

“The surgery was very routine,” Chen said. “We expect him to be the same ole Mr. Burns, but actually have a better quality of life. A lot of times, symptoms that affect patients occur over a long period of time, so they gradually get used to them and attribute the symptoms to aging.”

Before having the surgery on March 7, Glenn sat down with Channel 2’s Jovita Moore to talk about how doctors caught the problem and how it’s an important lesson for all of us.

“For them to detect this was a real shock, and that’s why it’s just so important,” Burns said. “The doctor said I’m in great shape otherwise, and it should be a speedy recovery.”

Brown says the fact that Glenn gets a physical every year was the key to detecting the problem.

“It’s quite a procedure. It takes about 3 to 5 hours, depending on complications they see once they get in there. But Dr. Randy Martin has been a great help and he called it 'big boy surgery,'” Burns said before the procedure.

“It’s kind of scary when you think they’re going to stop your heart, and they’re going to go inside your heart and replace it with a foreign object. That’s kind of scary to me,” Burns said. “Even though I’m out and everything, it’s still scary to know that you have someone’s hands on your heart and it’s not beating anymore. That’s just kind of weird and scary for me.”

The fact that doctors caught the problem before it could get worse was vital.

“It could have resulted in death -- that’s how serious it is,” Burns said. “That’s why I’m doing this interview. I want people not to put it off even though they may feel physically fine, which I did.”

“You never know how quickly something could creep up on you. So I really want people to make an effort not to put that physical off. Get that annual physical, it’s so important,” Burns said.

Burns said he will greatly appreciate support from viewers.

“I’m more than welcoming to that. That’s going to be so great for my recovery in and of itself,” Burns said. “I always try to write back (to) everyone who writes me. If they take the time to write me, I’m going to write them back and say thank you. It may be delayed a couple of weeks. If you write, I will certainly appreciate that so much.”

Thanks are also due to the doctors who helped Glenn.

“It was a real honor for me to be able to take care of him,” Chen said. “I’ve been watching WSB since I was a little boy. I grew up in the Atlanta area and it was surreal to take care of Mr. Burns.”

Once Glenn is home, doctors say he has to be active and up and about.

“I have a great family -- very supportive. What a group of great family here at the station -- everyone is so supportive. I will certainly appreciate everyone’s prayers and support. I can’t get enough of that,” Glenn said.

As long as his recovery goes as planned, Glenn should be back on the air in about 4 to 6 weeks.