Ott DeFoe talks upcoming heart surgery


Knoxville’s home-grown Bassmaster champion is in need of heart surgery.

Ott DeFoe revealed he’s been diagnosed with a torn valve in his heart.

The 33-year-old won the 2019 Bassmaster Classic, which took place in Knoxville.

WATE 6 On Your Side reporter Elizabeth Kuebel sat down with the pro angler. His heart surgery is scheduled for Wednesday, so he said he’s a little bit anxious, but he’s really leaning on his faith and his family. He also said he’s glad he caught the problem when he did and is able to get it fixed.

When DeFoe was crowned the winner of the Bassmaster Classic back in March, it was a time when he also started to deal with some health problems.

“The very next day or a couple days after, I just couldn’t sleep well at night. I was very short of breath at night, do anything throughout the day I would get short of breath,” he said.

DeFoe was told then he had bronchitis, but his shortness of breath didn’t get any better. It wasn’t until the last week or so DeFoe got his official diagnosis: a torn mitral valve in his heart.

The last several days he’s calling a whirlwind.

“It was an incident that happened, much like breaking your wrist or breaking your arm, something like that. But the good part is it can be fixed and that’s what we’re praying comes out well tomorrow,” he said.

DeFoe is set to have heart surgery Wednesday. He says it’s minimally invasive, and it’s clear he’s going in, leaning on his faith.

“It’s in God’s hands. I’m not that concerned with it. I know He’s got a plan and that He will be glorified through it,” said DeFoe.

The situation is teaching the pro-angler a valuable lesson – one he’s now passing along.

“Take 30 minutes, take an hour, go see your physician and get something checked out if you feel something is out of place,” he said.

And while it’s been a bit of a tough time, it’s also been a testament of support.

DeFoe and his wife saying they’re blown away by the outpouring of calls, texts and messages.

“I just want to tell them thank you. And to continue praying through all of this. Thank you so much and to continue until we have a full recovery, and have the a-OK from the doc, and we’re good to go,” he said.

DeFoe is scheduled for surgery Wednesday. He tells us his recovery should last a week to ten days.

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