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Posted at 12:00 AM ET, 02/ 3/2011

Washington A-lister Vicki Sant recovering after diving incident

By The Reliable Source

Vicki Sant in her office at Summit Foundation.(James Parcell)

Update Feb. 7: Sant diagnosed; stressful dive triggered cardiac episode

A mysterious cardiac episode while scuba diving has sent Vicki Sant, one of Washington's most influential philanthropists, to the Mayo Clinic.

Three weeks ago, Sant -- an accomplished diver with more than 200 dives -- became ill while on a diving vacation in the Philippines with her husband Roger and other family members. On the second day of the trip, Sant surfaced after a leisurely afternoon dive barely able to breathe. She was airlifted to Manila, where she spent five days in intensive care while doctors attempted to diagnose the problem.

News of the incident filtered back to D.C., where the Sants have a permanent place on the A-list. Aside from running their own Summit Foundation, he's on the Smithsonian Board of Regents; she's president of the National Gallery of Art; together, they've donated tens of millions to the National Symphony Orchestra, Museum of Natural History, Phillips Collection, World Wildlife Fund and other institutions.

Sant, 71, spent the last couple weeks resting in Manila and San Francisco. She arrived at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota Wednesday, where doctors will try to pinpoint the cause of what appears to be a cardiac-related issue. Sources close to the family say a complete recovery is expected, with the couple returning to their Washington home early next week.

Updated 11:00 a.m.

By The Reliable Source  | February 3, 2011; 12:00 AM ET
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As a former Navy Diving Medical Tech, this sounds more like a problem unrelated to the dive. To call this a diving accident is probably not wise.

Posted by: jckdoors | February 3, 2011 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for your thoughts. As you'll notice, we did not call it a diving accident.

Posted by: The Reliable Source | February 3, 2011 10:29 AM | Report abuse

I hate to be "that guy", but there are two basic typos here.

"philanthropists, to Mayo Clinic." needs a "the" between "to" and "Mayo".

"barely able to breath" "breath" should be breathe.

Posted by: FishBulb | February 3, 2011 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Comrades: Was Sant's medical crisis covered by the rules of our wonderful, broadspectrum healthcare reform? Airlifts included???

Posted by: rep15 | February 3, 2011 2:01 PM | Report abuse


Most "accomplished divers" carry a relatively low-cost specialty insurance policy for the sport (such as a those offered by Divers Alert Network DAN) which covers air-lifts, recompression chamber visits and other life-saving efforts that may be required. Especially good to have when diving in areas of the world where medical facilities are not always local or equipped.

And then there are those folks who have the ability to pay whatever it takes to ensure they get the care they desire.

Posted by: mowbrayboy | February 3, 2011 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Maybe it was a panic attack like Tony Soprano.

Posted by: blasmaic | February 3, 2011 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for your thoughts. As you'll notice, we did not call it a diving accident.

Posted by: The Reliable Source

Oh Relax...and be thankful anyone reads this silly column in the first place.

Posted by: dbunkr | February 3, 2011 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Diving accident - diving incident - they are the same thing. Stop making excuses. I too am a diver and I agree with jckdoors, this had nothing to do with diving. Learn how to write WaPo and how to admit errors (of which you have many).

Posted by: cjgh | February 3, 2011 4:12 PM | Report abuse

these are the funniest comments I've ever red, err, I mean read. Please, keep 'em coming. And would somebody capitalize that t before somebody gets upset.

Posted by: wcasey1 | February 3, 2011 4:35 PM | Report abuse

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