‘Gym Rat’ Celebrates 98th Birthday 3 Days After Open-Heart Surgery

BAY SHORE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Celebrating her 98th birthday is enough of an accomplishment, but Esther Cohen was doing so Monday just three days after undergoing open-heart surgery.

Cohen, still recovering at Southside Hospital, was wheeled into a room Monday, where loved ones and hospital employees sang “Happy Birthday” to her and presented her with a cake and gifts.

Cohen’s doctors said it’s very rare for someone her age to have undergone the surgery.

“In 30 years of practice, she’s the oldest patient I had to go through this type of surgery,” a doctor told WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs.

Why were doctors willing to operate on her? Cohen is a self-professed “gym rat” and in exceptional shape for someone her age.

“Used to go (to the gym) seven days a week,” she said. “Now I go three days a week.”

“We felt very confident that if she had to undergo a surgery like this, she had the best possible chance because of her fitness level,” her doctor told CBS2’s Meg Baker.

Esther Cohen’s 76-year-old son, Jack Cohen, is proud.

“Very few people can say they’ve got a mother like that,” he said.

“That’s my mother. Keeps people laughing and keeps people happy.”

Cohen, meanwhile, said she’s looking forward to turning 100.

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