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91-year-old woman undergoes 4 heart procedures at once

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

A 91-year-old grandmother had four heart procedures in one day and lived to talk about it.

It takes more than an aortic valve replacement, mitral valve replacement, tricuspid valve repair and coronary artery bypass to keep Minnie Cotham down.

In fact, doctors say her body is much younger physically and spiritually than her chronological age indicates.

Doctors at Tristar Centennial Medical Center say Cotham came to them full of spirit, but tired.

"The way she put it, the hallways were starting to get longer," said cardiac surgeon Dr. V. Seenu Reddy.

This strong woman has been working most of her life, including six years spent in the cafeteria at Wilson Central High School.

"I worked 38 years with Shoney's as a dining room supervisor, and that wasn't easy," she said.

Then, she moved to Florida and found her place in a school system there.

"And one little boy said, 'Do you speak Spanish?' and I said, 'Naw, honey, I speak hillbilly,'" Cotham said.

Eventually, she made her way back to Tennessee.

But about a month ago, the 91-year-old, who credits her long life to staying active, says she found herself getting tired easily.

"I got a little breathless," she said.

So, she went to the emergency room.

"She had three valves that weren't working and blockages in the arteries that required bypass surgery," Reddy said.

Despite her age, doctors decided Cotham was healthy enough for an operation, and she made it through that surgery and rehab with flying colors.

"I think it shows you that she may have been chronologically 91, but physiologically and spiritually, she was a much younger person," Reddy said.

"I owe them my life. That's how grateful I am," Cotham said. "Don't give up. Don't ever give up."

By the way, Cotham says she wants everyone to know she's actually 91 1/2. That "half" is really important, she said.

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