Covington City Manager Leigh Anne Knight, a lifelong city resident, had a heart attack Monday night while on vacation in Florida, and though she is recovering, she remained hospitalized as doctors tried to dissolve blood clots, husband Scott Knight said Wednesday.
The family is asking for prayers for Leigh Anne, who is 45 years old and has no history of heart problems; Scott said the family and doctors were both befuddled given his wife’s previously healthy history. Scott said he hopes she and the family will be able to return to Covington this weekend.
Leigh Anne was no longer in pain and was feeling better late Wednesday evening, Scott said, and was expected to leave the intensive care unit Thursday.
Deputy City Manager Billy Bouchillon will be the head city administrative official in Knight’s absence, just as he would be during a normal vacation or other absence.
"Most people don’t have these issues at the age of 45. The doctor couldn’t believe it because she had a clean health history and no cholesterol (issues), and this just rears its ugly head out of the blue all of the sudden," Scott said.
The Knights were in Panama City, Fla., vacationing with friends who were running a baseball tournament, when Leigh Anne began feeling chest pain, followed by arm numbness and jaw pain, after dinner Monday. She was rushed to the local emergency room, and though initial tests came back negative, doctors later diagnosed a mild to moderate heart attack.
An initial cardiac catherization — the process by which some heart conditions are diagnosed — led to the discovery of multiple blood clots. Doctors have prescribed clot-busting drugs since then, but they have had mixed success, Scott said. As of Wednesday afternoon, Scott said on Facebook, doctors were increasing her clot-busting medications and said she would be kept in the hospital for a few more days.
"I want to thank everyone for their prayers and concerns and outreach for her. We hope she is back to her normal self as soon as possible and we can get her home safely," Scott said.
Once the clots clear up, Leigh Anne will be put on blood thinners, but she should be able to rest at home once she returns to Covington, Scott said.
A couple of close family friends, Len Strozier and Alan Duvall, are standing by to fly down and transport Leigh Anne back to Covington through a program called Angel Flight. The nonprofit program matches up pilots with people needing expeditious medical transport. Pilots cover the costs of the fuel and fly their own planes.
In this case, the two will plan to fly a corporately-owned King Air, seven-seat plane to pick up Leigh Anne.
Strozier said they would be able to get Leigh Anne from her hospital bed to her Covington home in less than 2.5 hours. The seven-seat plane would also allow the immediate family to travel with her.
Scott wanted to use the tough situation to give advice to others, advising people to get regular checkups and to not ignore pain. Leigh Anne experience some mild chest pain a handful of days before her heart attack, Scott said.
Several family and friends have helped the family during this tough time. Friends Dennis and Judy Thompson are driving to Florida to pick up Leigh Anne’s parents Bobby and Betty Patrick, while Tim and Amanda Gaines and son Tate and Roy and Janet Frix and daughter Tiffany Smith have been providing support and meeting immediate needs.
A cousin and registered nurse, Melanie Mertz, has offered to fly down with the Angel Flight to offer assistance with transport.
"Without them, I don’t know where we would be," Scott said.
Covington Mayor Ronnie Johnston also offered some thoughts on behalf of the city.
"The city has asked everyone to keep Leigh Anne in their prayers. We’re very confident she is strong and will come through this. We’re looking forward to her recovery," Johnston said.
Scott thanked everyone for their support.
"Everyone’s prayers and their outpouring of concern has been a blessing for us. Facebook has been my medium (to provide updates), but any friends or family can always reach me via Facebook or my cell," Scott said.
"Already had offers of people bringing food; that’s not a big concern to us. It’s just me and (daughter) Meghann and Leigh Anne; we’re a small family and for the most part we’re good with that," Scott said. "Maybe it’ll just be a little slower pace now for a while, until we get back to a routine."