Month: November 2011

Richard Matson-66

Name: Richard Matson
Age at time of Dissection: 66
Type of Dissection: Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 19 July 2006
Tell Us Your Story:

Iam a retired United Methodist pastor, who suffered an aortic dissection in 2006. My wife and I were dining out. While in the men’s room I suffered an extreme pain in my back. Somehow I made it out to the entrance area on my own. An ambulance was called and they took me to the Meijer Heart Clinic at Spectrum Health in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Here I was diagnosed as having the AD. Surgery was ruled out as being too dangerous, as my heart had stopped twice and I had to be “paddled” back to life. I was released from the hospital 34 days later and spent another 29 days in cardiac rehab therapy at Clark Retirement Community. The doctor there suggested I might have another 18 months to live.

That was over five years ago. Thanks to the teams at Spectrum’s Meijer Heart Center and Clark Retirement I now live as active a life as my other health issues allow. They tell me my aortic aneurysm has expanded to 7.6 centimeters in diameter. However, I have no feelings, symptoms, or pain related to the cardio-thoracic mechanism.

My family and I discussed surgery with a cardio-thoracic surgeon this summer, but we ruled it out as having too many negative side effects. Thus, I accept each new day as a gift from God and enjoy it to the fullest.

Thank you for this web site. It is extremely helpful and encouraging.

Richard L. Matson

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Orthopedic surgeon Dr. William Farrell has surgery

Article Source:

Updated: November 16, 2011 12:16PM

JOLIET — Provena Saint Joseph orthopedic surgeon Dr. William Farrell has performed hundreds of surgeries over his career, but four years ago, he went under the knife himself in an emergency open-heart surgery to save his life.

It was a turn-around and a new perspective for the surgeon, and an experience he will never forget.

It was a cold day in December when Farrell had his surgery to repair a dissecting thoracic aortic aneurysm and to replace a valve, but it took him more than a week to make the decision to have a new pain checked out. Physicians, it seems, can be much like their patients when it comes to taking health changes seriously.

“Doctors don’t run to their doctors any more than anyone else,” he said with a laugh.

But looking back, Farrell was told he was fortunate he didn’t lose his life during those few days before he went in for a check-up. The condition was serious.

A thoracic aortic aneurysm is when a weak area on the aorta — the large artery coming out of the heart — bulges out or expands. They are so dangerous because they can burst at any time, causing severe internal bleeding leading rapidly to shock or death.

Farrell said when one bursts, survival rates are low. According to the Society for Vascular Surgery’s website, only about 20 percent to 30 percent of patients who get to the hospital with a ruptured thoracic aneurysm survive.

Even if the vessel ruptured on the table of an operating room, Farrell said, the patient might not survive.

“The quickest you can crack a chest is five minutes,” he said.

Only about half of patients with the condition even have symptoms. Those who do might notice chest or back pain, pain in the jaw or neck, coughing, hoarseness, or difficulty breathing.

A dissecting aneurysm, which was Farrell’s type, occurs when blood flow forces the layers of the aorta apart, weakening the aorta.

Farrell’s symptoms began with an ache in his upper back — not something most would equate with a dangerous heart condition. He thought it was probably a virus coming on and kept practicing. The backache persisted, though, and what he describes as his “coup de gras” was a shortness of breath walking from his car into the hospital.

An echocardiogram followed by a CT scan showed the presence of the aneurysm. Farrell took the news seriously, but perhaps not surprisingly to those who know him, he also had a calm come over him that he attributes to his strong faith.

“I was very much at peace,” he said of learning he was on his way to open-heart surgery. “It was like it was meant to be. I knew it was something I would just have to deal with. I just felt an aura of peace.”

Farrell said his father, who had the same condition, passed away at the age of 50 on the exact date Farrell was diagnosed. His surgery was Dec. 8 — the day of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which was an important observance to Farrell. He had always felt a connection to the Virgin Mother.

“It was meant to be,” he said. “I have a devotion to her, and I think that’s part of it. It was her way of saying thank you … I believe she intervened for me on my behalf. I feel I owe my life to that intercession.”

Farrell was admitted to Provena Saint Joseph immediately, where two medical school buddies of his, Drs. Rudy Altergott and Brian Foy, who founded Provena’s open-heart surgery program 16 years prior, performed the procedures.

It was successful, and he returned to work slowly after a recovery of around three months. Today, he said he’s as good as ever.

“I am working as hard as I used to,” he said.

Farrell said if he learned anything from his experience that he could pass on, it would be to live life in peace.

“None of us know when our last days will be,” he said. “Tomorrow might be your last day. Get rid of the bitterness in your heart and be at peace with other people and with yourself. Why carry bitter baggage around?”

Additional source:

Karen Berry-Frantz-42

Name: Karen Berry-Frantz
Age at time of Dissection: 42
Type of Dissection: Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 21 March 2001
Tell Us Your Story:

Ihad been diagnosed with the widow maker in Sept, 2000 and had angioplasty to correct this. Six months later I had sensations in my chest, not pain, which were similar to the original sensations and underwent a second cardiac cath during which the vessel dissected, leading to emergency open heart. During the subsequent hospital stay the cardiologist implied the “fix”, so to speak, may last 10 yrs on avg. Needless to say, the 10 yrs have passed, I’m approaching 11, but I have ever increasing anxiety. I’m afraid to do anything strenuous, or cough too hard or sneeze too many times, thanks to my allergies. Sounds silly, I know, but you would understand, having gone through this yourselves.

Just looking for peace of mind and a certainty that no one can provide. I do my best not to dwell, after all, its out of my hands. Have become a moderate exerciser, these days, as I feel more easily fatigued and out of breath. I’m only 53 and I’m scared. It’s always there in the shadows.

I’m tested annually. I work in radiology and I’m sick of the nuclear injections for the stress tests, having already had years of job related radiation exposure. Every year they do the stress test or stress echo and then they say it’s abnormal and I have to do the nuclear stress test. Then I go for the follow up visit to hear “every things as normal as it can be”. Really?? What does that mean. If things were repaired, why have my EKG’s been abnormal since the repair? Why are they not normal again. Of course, I never ask the doctor that, because I probably don’t want to know. I’m just happy to hear them say “normal.”

Just want to know that if I ride my bike up that hill, my vessel won’t dissect again. They joy of exercise hs been replaced by fear.

Please, somebody, tell me how silly that is. God love my husband, he means well and always says he understands how I would be nervous and why I have cut back on the exercise, but that is not what I want to do. Sort of a “catch 22” in my mind!

Contact Karen

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Jim Sanquedolce-51

Name: Jim Sanquedolce
Age at time of Dissection: 51
Type of Dissection: Ascending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 8 October 2009
Tell Us Your Story:

Iwas at home alone with my dog, It was 1 am when I must have been in excruciating pain, (I waited 3 days resting on my knees foot of the bed over my Gallbladderectomy a couple years prior) but Thankfully< I called 911 and being 2 blocks from the firehouse and 3 from our local ER, I believe The FD Medics were heading back to the firehouse they were here quickly... Upon arrival the ER doc agreed with the medic's assessment that whatever it was wasn't GOOD so he did a heart echo and Called ahead to ship me to Yale New Haven about 15 minutes away ( without Construction delays ) Thankfully most of that was during daytime it seems... I woke up right after they yanked the tubes, and a good friend/coworker who is also a 30 year Paramedic in the area began to fill me in as I still have no recollection of any of it.

Dr.Donald Botta was my Thoracic Surgeon, Dr Bart Muhs my Vascular Surgeon along with a cast of thousands, I suffered pneumonia so was in and out of ICU for a Month a year ago this month, Dr Muhs completed a Popliteal aneurysm bi pass surgery… which is getting better every day, I’ve recently been for a stress echo which is showing some bulging just above the Repair (my ascending aorta and expect I’ll be going for an audience with John A. Elefteriades, M.D-Yale Center for Thoracic Aorta Disease and we shall see when we might need to go back…

Contact Jim

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Fall is in the air….

Ilove the fall season. I love the watch the leaves as they change to such bright and wonderful colors. It’s truly amazing! It’s been a rainy day here in Everett, WA and I played some doubles this morning. I played against the top high school player from Cascade on Friday and I was feeling it this morning. And, I am playing again Sunday at 0700am. As well as, Tue-Sunday this coming week!

I am watching the Oregon State vs. Stanford game now. I plan to switch over to the UFC fights on Fox at 6pm to see how things are going there. I made a few tweaks to the website today and I hope everyone likes it! I am scheduled for a physical exam on Friday as my doctor said I needed to get my rear-end in there as it has been a year since a physical exam for m. I am also going to need to get my echo going again real soon as well. I was scared when I was told last time that I would probably have to have my valve replaced sometime down the road.

I am hoping that my leak just stays the same and doesn’t get any worse. What a quick UFC match.. Upset! I can’t wait for Lesner fight to see if he’s just full of hot air again! Stanford looks like they are going down to the Ducks…

Have a great evening!
Brian 🙂

Man Survives Condition that Killed Actor John Ritter


Article source:,0,6271230.story

A Lorain County man suffers the same medical condition that killed comedian John Ritter, but a correct diagnosis and fast action by medical responders saved his life.

Ken Nieding of Oberlin knows how close he came to death.

The father of six awoke at about 4 a.m. on July 25 with severe chest pains.

His wife called for an ambulance.

Nieding thought he was having a heart attack, but emergency room doctors realized it was more serious.

Nieding had suffered an aortic dissection, which is a tear of the main blood vessel of the body.

University Hospitals cardiac surgeon Dr. Arie Blitz said this is a very lethal condition.

“The clock is ticking and any missed time or delay can result in the patient’s death,” he added.

The force of the blood causes the wall layers of the aorta to separate.

Dr. Blitz said the tear can rupture and one can’t predict when that will happen.

Nieding was immediately flown by helicopter to University Hospitals and taken directly to the operating room. “I remember the pain. I remember the helicopter ride. And right after the helicopter ride, I blacked out. That’s the last I remember,” Nieding said.

That’s when his aorta ruptured. “And he completely loses his blood pressure and goes into full blown cardiac arrest. He’s about to die,” Dr. Blitz said.

A ruptured aorta is what killed ‘Three’s Company’ star John Ritter.

Ritter didn’t get to the operating table in time. Nieding did.

Dr. Blitz said without surgery, Nieding would have died right there.

But, even with surgery, his chances were slim. Nieding was given a 5% chance of surviving the operation.

Dr. Blitz says the surgery is very meticulous.

“The tissue is what we like to refer to it as wet toilet paper. It falls apart in your hands. So, you have to be very precise, very delicate, and bring the layers together with re-enforced tissue,” Dr. Blitz explained.

Ken Nieding knows he’s a lucky man. “Oh, I am so blessed. I really am. I am blessed to have such a great family and just to be here,” he said.

Explaining an Aortic Dissection

This is from the show the “Doctors” on TV. The interesting thing is that Amy Yasbeck Ritter is really trying to be an advocate for the AorticDissection cause.

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Beth Harris-17

Name: Beth Harris
Age at time of Dissection: 17
Type of Dissection: Ascending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 23 January 2002
Tell Us Your Story:

While most people have an aorta dissection due to an anurysum, I on the other hand was in a car accident that caused my aortic arch to rupture, I was being compared to princess Diana and had no idea why during my two month stay in the hospital.

It was not until I got home and was able to research what had just happen to me that I was amazed, that I was so very lucky and thankful to be alive. I’m 26 today and I have two children ages 7 & 9. I have my rough days, but I know that is I could overcome that obstacle then I could overcome any.

I have been experiencing pain in my chest and my heart doctor thinks it is related to the surgery. Has anyone else experienced this, and if so what was your diagnosis as to why you are experiencing the sharp pain in your chest?

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Robert Haisman-43

Name: Robert Haisman
Age at time of Dissection: 43
Type of Dissection: Ascending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 15 September 2005
Tell Us Your Story: This web site is superb.  Future victims of aortic dissection (and there will be future victims, guaranteed) need to know about diagnosis and treatment.

Iwas 43 in September 2005 and woke up to extreme pain in my chest.  It actually felt like something “moved” inside.  I assumed I was having a heart attack and called 911.  The pain was so severe I thought I was about to die.  My wife and kids were all out of the house and I was alone.  I was worried they would come home and find me dead on the floor.

An ambulance arrived within minutes and paramedics rushed me to the hospital here in Sarnia, Ont.  I was quickly examined by nurses, doctors, etc.  Blood tests showed I had not had a heart attack, but the pain was crippling.

I was admitted for more examination.  Over the next few days I went through all the usual tests one can imagine, with no diagnosis.  I even passed a tread mill stress test!!

Thank God there was a veteran nurse looking after me who had a hunch that I may be experiencing an aortic dissection.  I was given yet another ultra sound and within 30 minutes loaded into an ambulance and rushed to University Hospital in London, Ontario.

Upon arrival I was met by a cardiologist, surgeon, and nurse.  I had a cable orally inserted into my stomach by the surgeon, and within 10 minutes he confirmed I was experiencing an ascending arotic dissection – a diagnosis missed by Sarnia doctors for 4 days, and thankfully figured out by a fantastic nurse.  THIS IS NOT A DIFFICULT DIAGNOSIS!  Simple equipment and thorough testing can reveal a dissection within one hour – let alone 4 days!  As we know, mortality rates rise by the hour when this simple diagnosis is not made due to a lack of basic equipment or medical competency.

At University Hospital I was in surgery prompty, and seven hours later I had a St. Jude aortic heart valve and graft keeping me alive.  I was back to work in 6 weeks.  I am now almost 50 and feel great, thanks to a wonderful nurse (Val) and a talented surgeon in London.

Robert Haisman

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Sherra Baxer-54

Name: sherra baxter
Age at time of Dissection: 54
Type of Dissection: Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 15 July 2011
Tell Us Your Story:

The problem I am having is that I had been experiencing the chest pains and aches for a while, i have had hb for several years and between the doctors and myself, it was attributed to indigestion and acid reflux. on the particular day the my ad was found I was at work and refused to med vac out.

So I went to a local emergency room and stayed there for several hrs. while the doctors were giving me a nitro drip and several other medications to get my blood pressure down /finally they decided to do a ct scan and that’s when my tear was found not only that but i had formed a hemotoma which actually save my life I had not known that I had a genetic defect in that my aorta is curvy.

The problem that I have is that after that I had similar pains and ended up being airlifted to the hospital where I stayed in micu for 6 days. the doctor on call chastised be about being fat as he put it and talked to me as though I was there for attention. He then told me that I was initially was diagnosed by accident and to go home and take some alleve and that my problem was muscular.

I’m mobile on my job and do a lot of standing and have a lot of arm movement . What that doctor said may have been true but those very movements and pains caused my ad to be found in the first place. It’s the common practice and my regular doctor refused to see me about my legs numbing after standing for periods of time.

He told me to see my specialist. Are actions such as these common practice and can any one else with ad please give me some answers that make sense. anyone that has ad knows that its frightening and painful, not something for attention.

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