Troubled waters

Thursday, February 3, 2011; C03

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 Washington, 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 of weeks resting in Manila and San Francisco. She arrived at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota on 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 D.C. home early next week.

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