Updates on Mark Bortz

Family and friends,

Thank you for the continued outpouring of love, prayer, and support. Your faith and encouragement means more than we can say. In an effort to keep all of you informed and up to date, no matter where you are in the world, we have created this page as a place to post my current status and recent progress. Please share this link to any and all who are thinking of us and praying for us at this time.

Thank you, thank you, thank you,
Mark, Ellen, and Family



(Most recent updates at the top – Scroll down for previous posts)



Wednesday 4.17.24 | From MARK:

Here I am… completely surrendered to God… rising every day to be obedient to his call on my life.
I am thankful for every new day.
I am most thankful for my kind and caring wife who has stood by my side through it all… I love you.
Every day I get better and stronger.
Rehab is 3 times per week for 12 weeks – I’m already feeling the positive results.
In total I lost 30 pounds – seems I’m slow to gain weight with only 6 pounds added.
Everything related is a very slow process and SLOW is not me.
Last week after a rehab session, I was greeted by my Dr… Dr. Babu and my ICU nurse Angie.
This was a real treat and a reminder that this man held my heart in his hands and saved my life.
Please continue the prayers – they are needed and felt.
The lack of energy still prohibits me from much communicating… give me some time.
Go have fun today and keep checking back for updates.

Wednesday 4.3.24 | From MARK:

You will never know the pleasure it is to type this note to those who are following my journey through this page.
God has richly blessed me all my life and that has not changed in the past 2+ months.
I am thankful to be alive… and to have the wife and family that have surrounded and supported me.
Today I feel GREAT… weak with less energy than normal but GREAT.
Sunday we went to church for Easter.
Sunday, Ellen and I celebrated our wedding anniversary.
On Monday I walked a mile with Ellen at the Deerwood Arboretum.
Each day I am able to get up, shave/shower/dress without assistance. (it takes me a while)
Every day I make progress… very small steps… but it’s progress.
Next Monday will be my first cardiac rehab appointment and I’ll go 3 times per week for 12 weeks.
I’ll bet I’m in better physical shape after 12 weeks than I was before this all started.
This is a very slow process and those who know me best know that slow is NOT part of me.
I’m listening to the Drs/therapists and learning to get well at my body’s pace.
I sooooo appreciate all the prayers – they are absolutely felt.
I appreciate all the cards / emails / texts / calls / visits… I absolutely love you all.
Because of my lack of energy, I’m not capable of fully communicating, so give me some time to reply.
Go have fun today and keep checking back for updates.

Wednesday 3.27.24 | From Ellen:

Mark got a great report at his doctor’s visit today. He got cleared to drive, sleep on his side & begin cardiac rehab as an outpatient. He also got released from the surgeon and will follow up with a cardiologist in May. Main responsibility is to walk as much as possible. We are so grateful and super pumped!
Glory be to God!

Friday 3.22.24 | From Ellen:

This week has been splendid with a little progress every day! This morning Mark shaved and showered independently! He has steadily been increasing activity by walking mostly around the house, a little outside and some working at his desk. All of this while resting less during the day. He has been sleeping well at night.

Thank you for your prayers! We know they are a huge part of his recovery!! Our faith and gratitude for all God is doing never ceases. Our prayer requests are focused on increasing strength, stamina and endurance, as well as, healthy eating. He can still only lift 8lbs. or less and is not allowed to drive. We go back to the doctor next Wednesday, March 27th. Hopefully, he will begin cardiac rehab as an outpatient soon!

Hope everyone has a beautiful weekend as we head into Holy Week!!

Saturday 3.16.24 | From Ellen:

A beautiful day at the Bortz’s in many ways (in addition to the weather!) This morning Mark enjoyed coffee by the fireplace and an extended family visit. Showered with less assistance. Shaved on his own. Walked around the house, including up and down the stairs with a few short naps in between. His appetite continues to improve & he ate 3 full sized meals. Turned in early tonight- well deserved. I bet he sleeps exceptionally well!

Friday 3.15.24 | from Ellen:

Went to the doctor for 1 week post discharge visit. Got all the staples out. Mark is doing well. Able to walk without his walker part of the day. Walked down the stairs to work for ~1&1/2 hours and back up the stairs with standby assistance. Appetite continues to improve. Hope you have a nice weekend! Stay tuned…

Wednesday 3.13.24 | from Mark:

Only today was I able to begin to put together what has happened to me over the past 6 weeks.

With a new addition to my office, Ellen’s father’s recliner, I was able to sit at my desk for a few hours, get some work done and ponder all of the times and dates of the past few weeks.

The concept that I spent from Jan 22-26 in the ICU at St. Thomas simply recovering from dying – then was told by my doctors to spend the next month getting strong to prepare for a second stent placing procedure (2/28)  – only to spend the following 5 days in a medically induced coma while the doctors built 3 bypasses – they slowly brought me back out of the coma and reconnected me to myself (3/3) – now after 10 days (3/13) I’m beginning to be able to tie it all together and understand that I’m now on what I believe is the road to recovery – which will take me to at least my birthday (5/10).

Thank you for the many calls, emails, texts and requests to visit. Please understand I have very little energy or ability to communicate right now, but I appreciate you reaching out and hopefully I will gradually be able to respond in a more timely manner. I look forward to catching up with you. 

Many have expressed their desire to get on the meal train and through the last 6 weeks, it’s been booked: we now have more dates. Here’s a link: https://www.mealtrain.com/trains/31m7dw – I greatly appreciate your help with meals – Ellen SOOOO deserves the assistance.  We both greatly appreciate your support.

…and by the way, I was serious about that vacation train.

Taking a break in the recliner today:

Tuesday 3.12.24 | from Ellen:

Last night Mark and I got to experience a new kind of intimacy. I got to shave his face and head and I’m also learning how to fold his jeans correctly on a wooden hanger! 😆 

The shower and shave was exhausting. Today was low key with lots of rest and sunshine for a little while.

Monday 3.11.24 | from Ellen:

Mark slept well last night. He ate breakfast, lunch and dinner (big win)!
He soaked up some vitamin D in the sun for 30 minutes on the front porch with Cameron and Morgan during lunch.
He also sat up for several hours this afternoon.
It was a great day!


Sunday 3.10.24 | from Ellen:

It’s good to be at home and Mark is slowly getting more clarity about what has transpired. He still gets confused sometimes. This may go on for a while. Not surprisingly, there is still some disbelief mixed with overwhelm about all that happened. We see improvement each day. We expect progress to be slow with good days and some not so good days. He has days and nights a little mixed up.

He has no trouble swallowing now and is starting to be a little more interested in food but not eating much. His voice is getting stronger. He sat outside in the sun for 20 minutes today. We are looking forward to physical therapy starting this week. We all continue to be grateful for all that God is doing right now!!

Prayer requests for visible steady progress, strength, endurance, and appetite.

Thanks for reading 🙂
We appreciate your care, love & support !!


Friday 3.8.24 | from Ellen:

The first phase was focused on saving his life, preserving him mentally and repairing his heart physically. The doctors and nurses at the helm. Now is the time to assist where needed, protect his chest and prevent him from falls. A time to nourish his body, strengthen his lung capacity and endurance overall. He needs lots of encouragement for each improvement & progress because of course, Mark always wants more!!

10:30am: He had a good night’s rest. He said “this the second day I’ve woken up and known it is morning.” (So disorienting in the hospital) With assistance, he got up and took a shower and got dressed. Now back in bed. He’s much more alert today. He is still trying to understand all that has happened to him.

We’ll be trying to get him to keep doing things for short periods and then resting. He’s lost a lot of weight -29lbs since Jan. 20 and is just now starting to eat a little more.

This afternoon he sat up for 1.5 hours, and is using a wheel walker to get around. He was on his computer for about ~20 minutes. He is still short of breath and fatigues very quickly. We’re thankful for another day of progress!

Morgan and her dog Pepper are staying with us for a while to help out which is awesome!

Asking for prayers for deeper breaths, mental clarity and increased strength for Mark and patience for us all. Love!


Thursday 3.7.24 | from Ellen:

Mark got discharged this morning! Hallelujah!! We sing praises to the Master Healer and Physician who has watched over Mark and this team of doctors and nurses and all staff here at St Thomas West who contributed to healing. His progress has been miraculous even to the doctors. We are now ready for the next stage of healing and rehabilitation at home. We are grateful for the family, friends and extended circles of people who have been in prayer during the past 6+ weeks.

We are looking forward to sleeping in our bed tonight 🙂

More tomorrow….


Wednesday 3.6.24 | from Ellen:

8:30am – Mark had a good night last night. Decided to pull his own NG tube out … “oh well” he just needs to eat more food now. Ate some breakfast this morning. He told the doctor if he really wanted him to get stronger, they needed to provide better food! He walked to the bathroom twice with assistance. He also said he would like to go home tonight. So, he is beginning to sound and feel more like himself. 🙂

He is starting to remember a few things since he has been at the hospital. When they were reversing and stopping the anesthesia meds the other day … He looked at me and said twice “we can’t escape can we?” 😂


Tuesday 3.5.24 | from Ellen:

Moving to the cardiac step down floor for a few days of recovery to determine next steps.
He walked from the bed out into the hall and back & started solid foods!

Mark’s brother Mike decorated his room with a nice collage of family photos! 🙂 

Monday 3.4.24  |  from Ellen:

A good day!

Mark was lifted into a chair and sat almost 4 hours! They stopped last 2 IV meds.

He’s been seeing a speech therapist, occupational therapist, and physical therapist. He’s been eating some ice chips. Speech therapy is for swallowing and they are considering a nasogastric feeding (NG) tube. His voice is low and raspy, and he needs to try to talk loudly, not whisper. He got his chest tubes out, a line taken out of neck/put one in his arm.

5pm – They placed a NG tube for now to get him some nutrition. 

He sat in the chair for 40 min tonight! Improved strength in upper body!


Sunday 3.3.24  |  from Ellen:

It’s a brand new day! He had a good night.
Slowly waking up some more. He smiled when I was talking to him and responded mouthing I love you. Dr. Babu said may try to get him off the vent late today/probably tomorrow. Going to try moving him more in bed, get him off his back some. Encouraged us to keep our conversation very simple and positive. He’s hearing us and probably lots of thoughts in his mind, curious about what has happened/is happening. Not in pain. Neurologically improved following commands better. 

He squeezed my hand several times. Tears rolled out.

4:30pm: Breathing tube removed

Took awhile to get him awake enough/strong enough to take breathing tube out but just did! It was a great step forward! Will be in ICU for at least another day then to cardiac step down for a day or two.

Please pray for continued strength in all parts of his body – heart, lungs, extremities, voice and endurance.

Hopefully the chest tubes will come out tomorrow. These have been in since surgery and impede his ability to breathe deep (uncomfortable in chest and back). Respiratory therapist helping him with breathing exercises


Saturday 3.2.24  |  from Ellen:

Still in the ICU. His heart looks normal and is working better! They are reducing the sedation meds and slowly waking him up.


Thursday & Friday

The bypass surgery went well. Still in the ICU. Due to excess fluid around his heart, they decided to keep him sedated and on the ventilator until the fluid receded.


Wednesday 2.28.24   |  from Ellen:

11:00a – Arrived at the St Thomas West to check in for 2nd stent procedure

3:00p – Procedure started

4:30p – Dr. Koenig came to tell me when he put the stent in another artery collapsed. His heart went into Ventricular Tachycardia for ~3-4 minutes and then they hooked him up to heart and lung machine. Dr. Babu performed open heart triple bypass surgery for over 6+ hours.

Monday 2.12.24 @noon

Visited on Wednesday the 7th with a 2nd opinion Dr. for 90 minutes.  He is part of the St Thomas team and has full access to the procedure films and case file.  He provided a very clear explanation of what the original procedure involved and why there was an issue.  Only 5% of these procedures have issues.  Seems that what has been done is permanent and can’ t be changed. I’ll visit the original Dr on the 27th to review my health status (I plan to be in the best shape I can).  If all looks good, I’ll go back in on the 28th for an outpatient procedure to place a second stent.  While they are in the heart with a cath, they’ll be able to review and analyze the 1st stent placement and it’s current functioning.  Mean time I’m slow, weak and tired.  Every day gets a bit better so I’m encouraged.  

Ellen and I had booked a trip to Denver to Visit her son Jim, a train ride thru the snow covered mountains to Salt Lake, then a few days with my son Christian, wife Caitlin, grandson Shepherd and new granddaughter Hosanna.  Obviously we had to cancel that trip.  So Christian and Shepherd called to announce they were coming to visit Gramps for a week.  I was ecstatic.  When they arrived on the 7th I was surprised to see Caitlin and Hosanna as well.  I cried and it hurt SOOO bad.  It’s been a pleasure having them stay with us this past week.  Stay tuned and please keep praying.

I live daily by Proverbs 15:16 – I’d like to encourage you to read it and do the same

Sunday 2.4.24 @2p

Dr. appointment earlier in the week was positive. I have a long way to go to recover and be ready for the next procedure.  Next appointment is now scheduled for 2.27 to review progress.  If all meets requirements, I’ll go in on 2.28 for an out patient procedure to place a 2nd stent.  The plan is to be back home that afternoon.  At this point I’ll go thru Cardiac Rehab and head back to 100%… which for me is where I need to be headed.

I’d claim Thursday the 1st  was a turning point.  I sat up more than ever and went out to get about 90 min of sun.  I’m grateful for my brother visiting this week.  He provided some needed labor and encouragement.  All the local children have been lending assistance and I can’t say enough about how Ellen has covered me.  God has truly surrounded me with the best family.  I believe this recovery process will be weeks long. Any major updates, I will post here. Please continue to visit over the next month or so.

Saturday 1.27.24 @9p

Thank GOD. 100s of people, maybe even 1000s are praying for me.  Many of you would like a verbal update.  Based on my strength and resources that simply is not possible.  Today I am so weak I can barely talk. I can barely get out of bed.  And, my day to day functioning is my lowest ever. This is the best I can do today.  Please continue to check back here as I’ll update this page as strength allows.

Monday 1.22.24 @ 9a

I went in for a stent or 2… I learned they inserted only 1 stent in the right coronary which was 99% blocked… I felt fine most of Monday till about 6:30p when something in my circumstances changed. I’m told at ~ 7:30pm, I coded, which means my heart stopped beating. Obviously, I wasn’t around, but I was told my jaw locked causing me to bite my cheek, my lip, my tongue and not let go.  This has caused great pain in my mouth even today.  It is still difficult to eat today.  That cath remained in place through late Thursday. I’m told they administered CPR for 10 minutes by multiple people and my chest was badly beat up; black and blue all over with severe chest pain. It feels like an ape beat on my chest. Then, they applied the defibrillators which burned marks into my chest and brought me back to life.  At some point my jaw released and they inserted an intubation tube in my throat making it very painful to talk, eat or swallow to this day.  They took me into the cath lab and inserted another catheter into my groin to get to my heart, saw the stent had failed, put a balloon in and cleaned out the blood clots (only 1-2% of stents develop clots) and decided not to put a stent in the other artery yet. They inserted a urinary catheter as well.

Monday evening, all day Tuesday, all day Wednesday and until late Thursday, I was in ICU recovering from this code incident. Many employees both from the cath department and ICU mentioned they had never seen someone recover this strongly so quickly.  In 12 hours, I was sitting in a chair.  All my vitals had returned 100%. The doctors and all the nurses continued to state my heart is very strong and pumping just fine.  I WAS IN MAJOR PAIN.

I got home Friday afternoon the 26th.

Sunday 1.21.24 @ 4am

Well here’s an update…
Have been feeling minor chest discomfort for a couple days… decided to go to St Thomas hospital last night, Sat 1.20.24 at midnight… Blood work, X-ray, CT scan, answered lots of questions… Result= I had a small heart attack… So, blood enzymes are elevated… CT shows calcium on arteries… Possible blockage… EKG is normal… Plan= Cardiac Cath to learn if there’s blockage… likelihood to insert a stent or 2 or more if needed… Procedure tentatively planned for 8a tomorrow, Monday 1.22.24… back home tomorrow Eve… Pray please for no or little blockage… for successful stent procedure is required… for Dr Koenig who is very experienced and seems confident this will be a success… God has been very good to me for 65 years… I’m believing he’s got more planned in my life… I appreciate your prayers for Ellen and our family… I haven’t slept since Friday night… I’d LOVE to talk with you… However I appreciate you letting me rest for a while… Text if you wish… I’ll provide updates as available… If you’re reading this, I love you…