After receiving alarming x-ray results, 68-year-old Susan Watson was sent to Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital’s Institute for Advanced Aortic Disease in Phoenix, Arizona, where she was notified that she had a rare aneurysm.
"She had an aneurysm through her entire aorta, something very unique. It started at the root, worked all the way up, went into the blood vessels that go into the brain, worked down into her chest and then went into her abdomen," said Dr. Merick Kirshner, a cardiothoracic surgeon at the hospital.
An aneurysm is balloon-like bulge in an artery that can rupture and cause fatal internal bleeding, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. In order to tackle the challenge, Dr. Kirshner worked closely with a team of nurses, nurse practitioners and other physicians including Dr. Venkatesh Ramaiah, a vascular surgeon and co-director of the Institute for Aortic Disease.
"He's done and seen things I've never done before. And I've done and seen things he's never done before. The work I do in the ascending aorta and the work he does in the abdominal aorta is very different. So we can look at a problem, come at it from different directions and then come up with a solution very quickly," said Dr. Kirshner.
Through teamwork and dedication, Susan’s surgery was a success and she made a made a full recovery.
"I'm so grateful to them, for their brilliance, for their giftedness, for their expertise and for their skill. Without them, I truly believe I would not be alive today," said Susan.