Name: Marilyn Greene
Age at time of Dissection: 81
Type of Dissection: Ascending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 14 December 2012
Tell Us Your Story:
I am the husband of Marilyn Greene who had an ascending dissection on December 14, 2012. Last December we celebrated the first year anniversary of her operation.
Marilyn had no advance symptoms or problems. She passed out while cooking supper and I was standing nearby and eased her to the floor. She had stopped breathing and I thought she had a heart attack or stroke. I began giving her CPR – the latest version – I had seen demonstrated in a video but it seemed like an eternity before she began shallow breathing. I ran to the phone and called 911, resumed CPR again for a few minutes and then called our son who lives nearby on our farm. He was there in minutes and took over CPR – he is trained in the procedure. I recalled 911 and got the stupid set of questions that had little to do with our emergency. Then the paramedics got lost even though we live on a main highway just out of town. I called my daughter-in-law and she went to the driveway entrance and flagged the down the ambulance. I won’t tell you more but, needless to say, the experience was terrible.
We live in a small town about 50 miles from Birmingham and the University of Alabama Medical Center which has one of the best Cardiac treatment centers in the Nation. We contacted the air rescue service and she was flown by helicopter to the hospital. About one and a half hours had transpired when the emergency room doctors told me that she needed an immediate operation. I had never heard of this condition and questioned the emergency room doctor who looked young enough to be my grandson! I then called our family doctor and after discussing with him gave the OK to proceed. We were fortunate that one of the most qualified doctors in the city was available and within the next hour the operation was underway. Before the operation the doctor told us that she was lucky to be alive at this point. Only one out of ten made it to the operating room under these conditions and at her age. He said the operation could take anywhere from six to twenty hours! Her chance of survival was about fifty percent.
The doctor replaced the aorta from the heart valve up to the carodid arteries and repaired the valve and other areas. The operation only took six hours and she came through it wonderfully. The doctors and staff started calling her their little miracle lady! I cannot say enough good about the doctors in the Kirkland Group at UAB even though many years ago we lost a daughter and granddaughter with cardio myopathy. They both were heart transplant candidates but hearts were not available and the artificial heart (pump) was still very primitive at that time.
Marilyn is doing great now and we thank our wonderful doctor for giving us more time together. We celebrated our sixty-second wedding anniversary last March. God has truly blessed us.