March 22, 2016
Pictured above (L to R): Gustavo Morales, a Vietnam veteran meets with his doctor and longtime military friend, cardiologist Roger Belbel, M.D., with Las Palmas Medical Center.
For heart patient Gustavo Morales, the battle is finally won.
In 2014, at the age of 71, Morales was diagnosed with exposure to Agent Orange, an herbicide used by the U.S. military in Vietnam to remove trees and dense tropical foliage that provided enemy cover. Morales, a retired command sergeant major, was likely exposed to the chemical during his service in the Vietnam War.
Agent Orange is a cardiac risk factor worse than diabetes, and can cause heart disease, diabetes, stroke, kidney failure or a combination of those later in life. Morales suffered from symptoms commonly associated with the chemical, including stomach pain. Those symptoms led Morales to visit his longtime military friend, cardiologist Roger Belbel, M.D., with Las Palmas Medical Center.
As a veteran himself, Dr. Belbel is attuned to the types of medical issues veterans commonly face and immediately associated Morales’ symptoms with Agent Orange. An MRI confirmed Dr. Belbel’s suspicions. Morales underwent a quadruple bypass with his friend and doctor by his side and recovered quickly at the Las Palmas Medical Center cardiac rehab.
The El Paso Times recently shared an article about the unique friendship between Dr. Belbel and Morales.