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Imagine being told that you'd be spending your birthday undergoing open-heart surgery. That scary scenario actually played out for country legend George Jones.
After being rushed to the emergency room at Baptist Hospital in Nashville, George was diagnosed as having blockages in three of his arteries. The following morning, Sept. 12, 1994 -- his 63rd birthday -- he went under the knife for triple bypass surgery.
When the news about George's condition broke, the country music community rallied in support. Opry star Connie Smith arrived at the hospital at daybreak to be with George's wife, Nancy.
"Waylon Jennings also came in," George recalls. "And Garth Brooks and Reba McEntire sent enough flowers to start a nursery. When the chips are down, there's no denying that country stars are there for each other."
As soon as he left the hospital, George went on a rigorous workout program and started practicing a healthier lifestyle. Ten weeks after the operation, he played a concert in Davenport, Iowa, marking his first step on the road to recovery. Today, George says, "I'm walking, talking . . . and generally living life at a slower pace."
-- By Bob Paxman