League City mayor buoyed by fighting spirit and good friends after heart attack

LEAGUE CITY, Texas (KTRK) -- When Hurricane Harvey struck in late August, League City Mayor Pat Hallisey sprang into action.

Even though his own home was underwater, he was at city hall working during the height of the storm. And in its aftermath, he helped deliver supplies to the hardest hit neighborhoods, visited shelters, and organized a supply distribution center that helped 10,000 families.

"[He] started trying to put the pieces back together the minute the rain quit and the waters kept rising," his wife Janice Hallisey said in an interview with Eyewitness News.

But four weeks after the storm, he was trying to clean their flooded pool when his life changed in an instant.

"My daughter called me," Janice said, "and she said he had collapsed at home and was kind of incoherent. I said he's just dehydrated and she said, 'No, it's much more.'"

The 67-year-old suffered multiple heart attacks and previous surgical bypasses failed. Blood flow to the lower half of his body was cut off.

"The risk of him dying at that moment when I examined him, and I told the family, was between 30 and 40 percent, which is flipping the coin," explained Dr. Hazim Safi, a vascular surgeon at Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute-Texas Medical Center and UTHealth.

He was the mayor's surgeon and to save his life, he fixed the blood flow and amputated one leg.

"I think what made the difference," said Dr. Safi, "was his constitution and his determination to get well, to stay alive, because he's part of the reason we have very good results."

The prognosis is good. The mayor can't wait to get back to work helping others. But in the meantime-others are helping him.

More than 100 volunteers have been gutting and rebuilding his home so that when he's out of the hospital, he can go home.

"The community has come together to help their leader to put his stuff back together while he leads the charge to put League City back together," said John Baumgartner, the city manager of League City.

Mayor Hallisey's wife tells Eyewitness News there is no timetable for going home, but she says he moved to a rehabilitation hospital a week ahead of schedule.

Baumgartner said he's anxious to attend city council meetings via Skype until he can be there in person.

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