The Rev. Bernard Coughlin was in critical but stable condition Wednesday night following open-heart surgery at a Florida hospital.
The Gonzaga University chancellor suffered a heart attack Monday morning while jogging on the deck of a cruise ship in the Virgin Islands.
He was taken by boat to a hospital on St. Thomas, then flown to Shands Hospital at the University of Florida Medical School in Gainesville.
Although the heart attack initially appeared mild and doctors thought Coughlin would return home today, tests Wednesday morning showed almost complete blockage in the lower-left quadrant of Coughlin’s heart.
“He was at a pretty substantial risk of another heart attack,” said Dale Goodwin, Gonzaga spokesman.
Florida doctors operated immediately, performing a quadruple bypass late Wednesday afternoon.
It could take the priest anywhere from several days to three weeks to recover enough to fly back to Spokane.
Coughlin, 74, recently stepped down as president of Gonzaga University. He was taking the cruise as the final leg of a four-month sabbatical overseas.
He planned to spend part of his extended vacation touring Europe by bicycle. Coughlin had planned to return to Gonzaga and his new job as chancellor Jan. 2.
“He was talking to his secretary as they prepped him for surgery,” Goodwin said. “He was pretty confident.”
The Gonzaga staff and the Jesuit community of Spokane were surprised by the decision to go ahead with open-heart surgery in Florida, Goodwin said.
“But everybody I’ve talked to is pretty confident it was the right thing to do,” Goodwin said.