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Super Bowl Head Referee Was Treated By Yale Doctor

John_Elefteriades.jpg
Michael Marsland
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Yale University

The head referee at Sunday night’s Super Bowl was on the field with the help of a Yale University surgeon. NFL referee Bill Vinovich suffered a life-threatening heart injury in 2006 which prevented him from doing his job. 

Four years later, he turned to Dr. John Elefteriades, who is the director of the Aortic Institute at Yale New Haven Hospital. In his book Extraordinary Hearts, Elefteriades wrote a chapter about the football referee. 

Vinovich explained that his family was his "first love," and beyond that was football and his job as a head referee. He also explained that his life had no meaning without that work, and he "would do anything to be able to return to that work." 

Vinovich underwent surgery at Yale for a torn aorta.  It was another two years before he was able to return to the field. On Sunday night, the referee reached the pinnacle of his professional career, officiating at his first Super Bowl.

Elefteriades predicted that Vinovich will probably have to have more surgery in the future.

On Sunday, the doctor was on call, but he said he’d be watching the game as long as no emergencies came up.

This report includes information from WSHU Public Radio.

Diane Orson is a special correspondent with Connecticut Public. She is a longtime reporter and contributor to National Public Radio. Her stories have been heard on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition and Here And Now. Diane spent seven years as CT Public Radio's local host for Morning Edition.

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