A Hardy Benefit for the Heart

Pamela Marin covers society events for Orange County Life.

In matters of the heart, "the population as a whole is much better educated than just a few years ago," according to Dr. Joel Manchester, medical director of cardiology at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian.

That is the biological good news, which arrives, predictably, with the bad: "Just because you know you shouldn't do something, doesn't mean you stop doing it."

Such was the dilemma for guests at the Orange Coast Heart Institute's second annual clambake last Thursday. Health or happiness--that was the question for the casually dressed partygoers who anted up $75 each for an evening of dining and dancing pool-side at The Newporter Resort.

Is it better to load one's plate with fresh fish and crisp vegetables--or to slather one's rolls with butter and smother a hunk of blueberry cobbler with vanilla ice cream?

"Scooping decadence!" hissed Manchester, as he paused to chastise a colleague hovering over the dessert bar.

But as guest Hans Prager, owner of The Ritz restaurant in Newport Beach, noted: "Not everyone here is a heart patient!"

Or even an ex- patient--like Gary Burrill, who underwent bypass surgery "10 years ago this month" and now serves as board president of the 400-member Heart Institute. The institute is actually an educational tool of Hoag's cardiology department, providing information to physicians on current cardiology issues as well as community education programs on basic prevention, diagnosis and treatment of heart diseases.

So how does the 55-year-old Burrill, a Newport Beach resident and former owner of radio station KOCM, take care of his reconstructed heart?

"Well, I got a little boost in that area just this past year," he said. "I asked one of my best friends to join (the institute), and he said: 'Why should I join when you're 50 pounds overweight?'

"I wasn't exactly setting a good example," Burrill admitted, adding proudly: "I've lost 40 pounds since then."

For those who attended last year's clambake, Thursday's fund-raiser seemed "a lot better organized, and a lot quieter ."

The estimated $10,000 that was netted at the event will inaugurate Hoag's $1.5-million campaign to construct a secondary catheterization lab.

Prospective deadline? "Betcha we raise it this year," said Manchester, with a low-cholesterol twinkle in his eye.

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