Darrell Miho offers thumbs-up and peace signs before undergoing open-heart surgery at Spring Valley Hospital Medical Center on Feb. 27.

An online fundraising campaign has been launched for photographer Darrell Miho, who underwent open heart surgery.

The campaign’s organizers, Grace Ayabe, Kaz Igawa Fong and Katherine Takahashi Weinstock, said in a statement: “Our dear friend, Darrell, has had a sudden serious health emergency and needs our help. He was running errands when he began to feel chest pain and was a little short of breath. It felt off enough that he went to an ER. Good going, Darrell. But, you know it’s not good when you turn around to suddenly see the doctor and staff surrounding you, springing into action.

“He underwent open-heart surgery on Feb. 27, 2023. A total of 5 bypasses (!) were performed that day. Thank goodness it was a success!

“Darrell, being such a positive and happy guy, recovered well during his 12-day hospital stay. He joked and made up riddles about his hospital meals, as well as sharing his potty schedules and photos of his journey post-surgery. When Grace (a sister from another mister) heard a few curse words, she knew her big brother was going to be okay …

“As you all know, Darrell has a HUGE heart and NEVER hesitates to help those that need help, even when not asked. Grace has known him since their college days and he has always been there for her and her family. You probably have a similar relationship with him. He has made such a strong impact on people all over the world. She is blessed to call him her ‘brother.’

“Now, back to how you can help Darrell. As you know, hospital expenses and after-care really add up in a scary way; overwhelming. Plus, Darrell will be unable to work for a few months. Therefore, we are reaching out, on behalf of Darrell, to see if you can help with Darrell’s medical and recovery expenses. We have created a/this GoFundMe account to help support him.

“Darrell and us THANK YOU in advance for your love and support!”

As of Wednesday evening, $7,400 has been raised from 80 donors toward the $20,000 goal. Funds will pay for emergency hospital care for 12 days; rehabilitative medical expenses; meal deliveries; and loss of income during recovery (estimated to be 2-3 months).

For more information, go to: www.gofundme.com/f/darrell-miho-heart-bypass-surgery-mihostrong

Darrell Miho (right) was among the volunteers who suited up on June 20, 2013 to look for missing persons in the Kitakami River in Nagatsura, Miyagi Prefecture. (© 2013 Darrell Miho)

Miho is a freelance photographer, videographer, and multimedia producer based in Las Vegas. His editorial clients include Sports Illustrated, The New York Times, Golf Digest, and The Honolulu Star-Advertiser. He specializes in people, sports, travel, architecture and documentary. He is a lighting magician, avid traveler, and peace advocate, and utilizes his creativity to make this world a better place.

From 2019 to 2020, Miho’s portraits of Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors were included in “Under a Mushroom Cloud: Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Atomic Bomb,” an exhibition at the Japanese American National Museum.

In a March 9 post on Facebook, Miho told his story: “Listen to your body…it might be telling you something. If you don’t, you may not see tomorrow.

“On Feb, 24, I listened. Long story short, I went to the grocery store to buy juice and aspirin because my body had been feeling ‘off’ for the past 45 minutes. I thought it could be blood sugar or the fact I hadn’t taken my daily aspirin in four days. While I was walking the aisles, I felt a dull chest pain over my heart, I was sweating for no apparent reason and I was having difficulty breathing. Three of four common symptoms of having a heart attack (tingling or numbness in your left arm is the fourth). So I left the grocery store and drove myself to the nearest hospital.

“As it turned out, I WAS having a heart attack, but for me, it was not a chest-clenching episode like you see in the movies, rather it was a slow growing wave of pain and discomfort. It was roughly an hour from the time I started feeling funny to the time I got to the hospital. The fact that I drove myself should tell you that it was not a sudden event.

“72 hours after walking into the emergency room, they cracked my chest open and I underwent a successful quintuple bypass surgery. I know I am lucky. I knocked on death’s door, and thankfully, no one answered.

“If you get winded easily, go get your heart checked. If you have any combination of the four symptoms I listed above, go to a hospital or call 911. What happened to me can be avoided. It would be much better and much less painful for you to have stents put in your arteries (they tried) than open heart surgery. TRUST me on this one.

“PS…I am now at home recuperating. I feel good and everything is going well.”

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