NewsLocal NewsIn Your NeighborhoodFond du Lac


After open heart surgery, the FDL County DA urges you to take your health seriously

Posted at 6:19 PM, Jan 04, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-04 19:19:39-05
  • Fond du Lac County District Attorney Eric Toney is sharing his story after getting open-heart surgery for a serious heart infection.
  • Video shows his story and his message for others.

Fond du Lac County District Attorney Eric Toney has had a busy year and a half.
He ran for state attorney general in November 2022 and prosecuted several high-profile homicide cases during the past year.

But this summer, Toney's busy year turned for the worse.

“By the Fourth of July, I ended up in the hospital for the first time with fatigue, nausea, some chest discomfort…breathing didn't feel very good,” Toney said.

At that time, he was diagnosed with myocarditis, or heart muscle inflammation, and given IV fluids.

But, his health problems weren't getting better.

“By sometime in August, I was walking in the office and just kind of fell, lost control of one or maybe both of my legs,” Toney said. “And after about 20 seconds I was fine and went back to work.”

Even though he thought he was ok, he wanted to take precautions, remembering that his former colleague Dennis Krueger passed away from cardiac issues in 2018.

Toney stayed in contact with his doctor and in the fall, his medical team detected a heart murmur, and subsequent blood tests revealed an infection.

He had open heart surgery in mid-November, and his surgeon Dr. Thomas Hinkamp said early identification was essential in treating the issue.

"Eric would have died if he hadn’t sought care. . . if he had waited too long, his heart just would have failed,” Dr. Hinkamp said.

Dr. Hinkamp says the prognosis is“excellent” and Toney, a marathon runner, said he was even able to run a 5k on New Year’s Eve.

Now, he’s using his influence to encourage others to take their health seriously and seek care early.

"The things modern medicine can do are wonderful, and you don't know if you don't have it checked out," Toney said.

SSM Health president Katherine Vergos said it’s important to establish a primary care doctor early, so that if something does happen, care will be more readily available.