Bill Vargus knew things were serious when a heart doctor at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania told him, "You're lucky you woke up."

The former Fox 29 sports anchor, who has arrhythmia, makes a living flipping homes, and was working on a house when the room began spinning. Before he knew it, he was on the floor after passing out.

Vargus stayed on the floor for about a minute before attempting to drive home, but he barely made it a block before he became disoriented and began slurring his words.

At the recommendation of Mike Cirigliano, his personal physician, he made an appointment at HUP on Tuesday. Vargus chalked up the incident to not eating all day, but after going over some tests, Dr. Fermin Garcia's prognosis was a lot more serious than he expected.  

"The test we just did shows you have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, an enlarging of the heart that can result in sudden death," Vargus said Garcia told him. "You're lucky you woke up."

"I was actually smiling from ear to ear, waiting for someone to come out with a camera saying, 'You're punked!'" Vargus said.

But Garcia wasn't joking, and kept Vargus overnight Tuesday to monitor his heart. He had emergency surgery Wednesday to have a defibrillator installed in his chest.

Vargus was a sports anchor for Fox 29 for 12 years. He left in April 2009 when the station did not renew his contract. Sue Serio, his wife and a weather reporter on Good Day Philadelphia, was by his side during the surgery.


The 2 1/2-hour surgery was successful and Vargus was released from the hospital Thursday afternoon.

"This is why I try to live each day like it might be my last," Vargus said. "And this is why I have the highest regard for doctors and scientists, the true miracle workers."