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Only on 12: Columbia County judge back on bench after emergency heart surgery

Judge Doug Flanagan

Judge Doug Flanagan was having a hard time breathing and even though a couple tests came back just fine, he still knew something wasn't right. (WRDW-TV / Sept. 6, 2011)

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2011

EVANS, Ga. -- The juvenile court in Columbia County is just about caught up after its only judge had emergency heart surgery last month.

Judge Doug Flanagan is a busy man and now he's a walking example for you to listen to your heart and your body.

Flanagan is back behind his bench after having quadruple bypass heart surgery last month.

"I'm doing good, I'm feeling fine. I'm back at work. I'm working at least half days," Flanagan said.

The juvenile court judge was having a hard time breathing and even though a couple tests came back just fine, he still knew something wasn't right.

"I was listening to my body and doing the common sense thing," he said. "When your body sends you signals, it's no different than your car; when your body sends you signals, smart people, especially men, need to go have it checked."

So, on Aug. 1, Flanagan traded in his judge's robe for a hospital gown.

"I went in there to have the test and they kept me," he said. "I'm happy I had it checked."

The 64-year-old says the ordeal was scary for his whole family.

"It was a wake-up call, but then again I was smart enough to go because I didn't feel good," he said.

He encourages everyone to pay close attention to what your body may be telling you.

"Heart attacks are the silent killer, if you don't feel good, go get it checked," Flanagan said.

The judge spent a couple of weeks out of commission, but now he's back and better than ever.

"I went crazy at home," he said. "After about the second week of surgery, I've been back here working to get the cases down every day. Taxpayers want that."

And in a growing Columbia County with cases piling up, he sure was missed.

"Every day this week we'll be having court. Oh, this county has really grown, we have about 125,000 people in this county and there's a lot more issues that are coming in here as the county grows," he said.

Now that he's all patched up, Flanagan says there's no slowing things down.

"My wife knows she can't slow me down," Flanagan said.

Flanagan turns 65 next month. He said just a few days before doctors found the blockages, he hiked 5 miles with his boy scout troop. He considers himself very lucky.

Judge Saunders pitched in and filled in for Judge Flanagan to keep the juvenile cases under control. The clerks say they're almost caught back up.

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