Ocala man shows appreciation with meals for medical team involved in surgery

Meals were given out to Advent Health medical staff in a show of gratitude

Jay Cowart wanted to show his appreciation to the Advent Health Ocala team behind his open-heart surgery in a very special way.

OCALA, Fla. – An Ocala man gave his gratitude to a medical team in charge of his surgery by giving them free meals.

Jay Cowart wanted to show his appreciation to the Advent Health Ocala team behind his open-heart surgery in a very special way.

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“We have our brisket here — have everything ready waiting for them to come out,” Cowart said as he showed the trays of brisket, chicken, buffalo chicken, and mac-and-cheese he had prepared.

Twelve weeks after undergoing open-heart surgery, Cowart and his wife, Tammy, drove in their “Sweet Baby Cheeses” food truck to the Advent Health hospital in Ocala, where they served dozens of meals for the nurses, physicians and staff as a token of appreciation for the care they gave him after his surgery.

Cowart and his wife in front of the "Sweet Baby Cheeses" food truck (Copyright 2022 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

“They made it feel very comfortable. They made me feel safe, and that’s one of the main things when you’re trying to heal or go through a procedure,” Cowart said. “I told them (that) when I get better, I’m gonna come back and feed you guys.”

Three months later, he made good on his word; Dr. James Lonquist, a cardiothoracic surgeon, performed the coronary bypass surgery on Cowart. The procedure involves re-routing blood flow a section of the blocked heart arteries.

“I am so privileged to be part of a very big team that took care of him,” Lonquist said. “It was like seeing an old friend again. We exchanged hugs and talked about how well he was doing.”

Cowart, 59, recalled it was back in February he had been getting chest pains.

“I knew that I had something going on, but how severe or what it was, I didn’t quite know,” he said.

Not feeling himself, he said he went to his doctor, who performed a stress test.

“The first few minutes of the stress test, basically, they realized some abnormalities, and they called an ambulance,” Cowart said.

After he arrived at the emergency room, doctors did a catheterization which revealed his heart arteries were blocked.

Dr. Lonquist said Cowart has shown to be ahead of his recovery schedule.

“He was back to normal in about three weeks. It is really heartwarming to see him doing so well,” Lonquist said.

Now that Cowart is on his way to a full recovery, he said he’ll be forever grateful for the team at Advent Health in Ocala.

“Thank you. Thank you for restoring my health, and thank you for the ability to get back on my feet and work. The healing takes a little time, but the overall feeling of getting back on your feet — there’s nothing like it,” he said.

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About the Author:

Carolina Cardona highlights all Central Florida has to offer in her stories on News 6 at Nine. She joined News 6 in June 2018 from the Telemundo station in Philadelphia.