William Vickers -53

Name: William Vickers
Email: DocDanGA@aol.com
Age at time of Dissection: 53
Type of Dissection: Ascending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 2 October 2008
Tell Us Your Story:

I had my ascending aortic dissection in Oct ’08. I had surgery, with a hemashield graft placed in the ascending aorta. I never went back for any post ops (denial) until I had abdominal pains Jan ’14. I had two CT’s at the #1 heart hospital in GA with contrast performed. A doc told me that I was a rock star, that the X-ray viewing room was filled with docs standing in silence with their mouths open when my CT’s were put up.

I pulled up my records yesterday, and now I see why. My aorta is dissected from my neck down to my thighs ( could be higher and lower, but the CT didn’t go there). My graft is leaking, and has an inch thick clot around it. Usually the dissection cuts off blood supply to the branches it passes. But my lungs, liver, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, and intestines are performing fine.

It’s the worst dissection I’ve ever read about. Go figure. Pray, as I do daily. I carry my bible in my car, me and God are buddies. Still working. Going for my brisk walk now. There’s hope for all, is the point of this post.

UPDATE: 2/25/2015:

I have posted in the age 50’s forum as William Vickers previously.

I had a type A aortic dissection 6 yrs ago. Repaired with a graft, but was ‘just too sick’ in the medical report to replace the aortic valve. I was not expected to survive.

This past Thanksgiving eve, I felt pain in my right chest, came home from work, and that’s about all I remember. I live 60 miles from the #1 ranked heart surgery hospital in GA, so I was helicoptered there. My aorta was leaking when I got to the hospital at dark, Dr Clifford Hastings is suppose to be a top heart surgeon. He immediately put me in surgery, opened my chest, and when he did, my aorta burst. I lost 2 L of blood. Dr Hasting didn’t think he could do much for me, but he worked on me for 6 1/2 hrs. He put did a graft, and also replaced the aortic valve.

I was treated in the Ronnie Green Heart Center at NGMC in Gainesville, GA. Ronnie died of a dissection in 2001. He donated the money to build the new heart center. He was my cousin, related through both his mother and father.

I stayed in the ICU there for almost a month. I was on a ventilator for 3 weeks. I would start gagging everytime they tried to take me off it, so they did a trach tube and a feeding tube to my stomach. Then I got some kind of severe infection in my right arm, and was put on Vancomycin IV drip. I don’t remember any of that.

I was moved to a nursing home wing with about 50 very disabled patients in wheel chairs. Most were obviously fixing to die. Most had dementia and sat with their mouths open. I stayed there for over a month. I volunteered for occupational, physical, and speech therapy. I was pretty disabled for about 2 weeks, the mental tests I took showed it. For some reason, I just got a lot better after the first 2 weeks. I became the only patient that didn’t wear a diaper, I was the only patient that could walk, and go into a bathroom.

I retook the mental tests at week 5, and scored almost perfect. I threatened to go home AMA if they didn’t let me out, but I agreed to wait over the weekent till the Dr in charge dismissed me. I walked into the conference room for my exit interview, and they all agreed I was OK to go home.

My question is……have you ever heart of someone with a previous type A dissection, surviving an aorta burst?????? I know most people die before they hit the floor.
My aorta was leaking on the helicopter ride, but it burst when he started the surgery. Dr Hastings said I almost bled to death. My brother said I’m just lucky to be in the right hospital, with the right surgeon, at the right time.

I would like to know if you or any doctor knows it anyone else has survived a burst.


Kenneth Lucas-50


Darrell Adkins-52


  1. Lynn Erwin

    I also had my ascending aorta replaced with a dacron graft in 2012. The rest of my aorta is dissected from my chest down thru my femoral arteries in my legs. Also my Carotid arteries are dissected. We monitor them with yearly CT scans. Did they decide to repair your leaking graft and are they going to repair or stent your descending aorta? Any feedback would be appreciated.

  2. William Vickers

    Thanks for posting Lynn, it’s good to know someone is doing OK with an extensive dissection like yours. They’re not going to try to fix my leaky graft, the surgeon that placed it said not to. A ‘wisp’ of the contrast dye was seen on the CAT scan leaking into the clot, so it is an active leak. Another cardiologist called in a vascular surgeon for a second opinion, he said my aortic tree is ‘less than perfect’ and needs to be checked yearly. There are also two small aneurysims at kidney level that need to be watched. The dissection extends up my right carotid artery, left subclavian, down into the renal arteries, and down both legs. My pain turned out to be from diverticulits, but wasn’t due to a dissection ischemic cause. So for now, it’s just keep an eye on everything.

  3. Just wanted to update everyone about William Vickers. . I am a good friend that kept in touch through emails with Dan since he returned home from his second surgery that he wrote about on Feb. 25, 2015. I our last contact was on May 22, 2015 and he told me that he hadnt been feeling well that entire week. He made the comment that he was having some pains. That was the last time I heard from him. Sad to say, Mr Vickers passed away on June 2, 2015. Please keep his family in your prayers… He will be missed tremendously and he fought a good fight to the end! Now his sufferings are over and hes at peace with his maker. If I could speak for him, I believe he would say to not give up hope on the issues at hand. Theres always hope and good doctors that are out there. Place your trust in the Lord for he will always be with you. Thank You, V.Janette Venable.

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