Category: Thirties Page 1 of 3

Will Jipson-36

Name: Will Jipson
Age at time of Dissection: 36
Type of Dissection: Ascending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 1 February 2017
Tell Us Your Story:

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]awoke at 2am, thanks to the screech of a cat fight in the hall outside my bedroom. All night, I’d been feeling a tight ache in my upper back and chest. At that moment, I felt what I must describe as a fist trying to press through my chest from the inside. Or like an Alien Chestburster, if you will.

I called 911, suspecting I was having a heart attack. I sat and waited near the door, controlling my breathing and trying to remain calm to keep my pulse down. Arriving EMTs suspected it was an aneurysm, and I was sent by helicopter to a hospital in Washington, D.C. for emergency repair.

It’s been 13 months since the repair. In that time, I’ve suffered intermittent blood clot issues (specifically Pulmonary embolisms) – likely the result of inactivity. I used to bicycle 20+ miles a day, and a year of convalescing put considerable weight on.

I was advised to seek therapy, but have neither the time nor money, really. The hardest part of this has been the severe depression and lack of support. I’m considered a young survivor with an even younger peer group; the experience and the severity of the trauma is difficult to explain.

Craig Carda-35

Name: Craig Carda
Age at time of Dissection: 35
Type of Dissection: Ascending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 25 May 2015
Tell Us Your Story:

Hi, I am Craig Carda and I survived a ascending Aorta dissection!
This is something I tell myself everyday since memorial day of 2015,
It started out as a beautiful holiday weekend enjoying time making some burgers and hot dogs and relaxing with my family and suddenly begin to feel ill…I thought maybe I did not cook something well enough or Just tired.
I proceeded to tell my wife, “I’m going to take a shower, I do not feel good.”

At that moment I begin to walk towards the bathroom and said, “No shower, Let’s go to the hospital.” She looked at me as I was walking towards the front door in pain, I am ok with pain but then my right leg lost feeling I could not move it as I got to the car…..The pain Started to increase to my back as my wife started the car. Thank god we lived minutes from the hospital. When we reached the hospital I could no longer walk and tried to drag my leg out and make it function. It would not cooperate. The panic set in.

I was on the ground with car door ajar and screaming some pretty insane swear words and the pain felt deeper. Two paramedics outside the ER grabbed a wheel chair and pushed me in….Keep in mind I am still conscious and I am angry wondering how this happened.

I am in a machine all of the sudden getting some dye scan when I am pulled out very fast and on to a bed and rushed to a room. I see 4 doctors, maybe there was only 2 but at this time the drugs they gave me kicked in….They begin asking questions, Do you want a mechanical or a pig valve? I remember saying what….Can we talk about this later? Do you authorize your wife to make this decision you have 10 minutes. I replied, 10 minutes for what? I remember saying, “Yes my wife can make any decision about me, she always does!”

Before passing out….I woke up from a weird sleep in a trance with a tube in my mouth and very frightened….Thank goodness my wife was there to explain and calm me down…It has been 3 years since the operation and life has been different. I miss a lot of things but I’m grateful I am still alive….

If anyone ever needs to talk I understand. please reach me at

Sabrina Wilson-33

Name: Sabrina Wilson
Age at time of Dissection: 33
Type of Dissection: Ascending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 12 January 2016
Tell Us Your Story:

I felt a pop in my chest and serious pain in my chest, shoulders, and jaw. I was told that I should not get pregnant ever again due to the higher risk of redissection.

Well I’m pregnant and I’m scared. Abortion is not an option for me. All the research I have tried to find doesn’t cover pregnancy after type A dissection or any dissection at all.

Jessica Phan-39

Name: ReapReap3939 Phan
Age at time of Dissection: 39
Type of Dissection: Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 4 July 2016
Tell Us Your Story:

Hello my name is Reap, on July 4th 2000 I experience pain in the middle of my chest that race threw my back. The pain was excruciating for a minute there I thought it was just chest pain. I told my kids to call 911 because I thought I was having chest pain.

They took me to One hospital and they did a ekg send me for cat scan. When they have the results of the Cat scan they then told me I had aortic dissection and that they were going to transfer me to another hospital that’s more advance. I was in the MICU for 6 days. They stabilize my blood pressure. Through out all of this I learn that I had an aortic dissection tybe B.

I have been follow by vascular and they told me that I don’t need surgery right now and to manage it with blood pressure medication. The funny thing is I never have any history of high blood pressure.

My question is, its been almost a month and my blood pressure is good so far. But since the dissection I still experience back pain, low energy, dizziness and out of breath at times. I went to see my vascular doctor he says its my meds.

My body need to get use to it but I feel concern. I’m 39 years old and ever since the dissection I feel really old. I’m I ever going to get my strength back? Should I be worried about my back pain? Should I be worried period?

Natasha Crawford-37

Name: natasha crawford
Age at time of Dissection: 37
Type of Dissection: Ascending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 15 February 2015
Tell Us Your Story:

My daughter and I was at the gas station getting gas and I had an major pain in my chest. It felt like someone was stabbing me and I couldn’t catch my breath all at the same time. My daughter asked me did I want her to call 911 and I just shook my head.

When I got to the hospital I couldn’t take the x-ray because I was in too much pain. I was giving pain medication and I don’t remember anything after that. I woke up two days later in icu. When I seen the doctor that is when I was told that I had a aortic dissection.

They put two mechanical values and that I am also paralyzed from the stomach down. I am still confused and it has been a year already so I am trying to find some information on what was going on.

I have a question:
I had a aortic dissection last year and ended up paralyzed from the stomach down, and I just wanted to know if anyone that has been through the same thing been able to walk again? Please reply.

Jeff Wolstenhole-36

Name: Jeff Wolstenhole
Age at time of Dissection: 36
Type of Dissection: Ascending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 18 June 2014
Tell Us Your Story:

While driving for work, I felt a pop in my chest and then an immediate sharp pain in my back. My heart started to beat rapidly and I started sweating as I pulled over on side of expressway.

The pain in my back got so bad I was hunched over steering wheel as I called 911.

The ambulance raced me to emergency dept. where I was sent for CT scan; within an hr I was on the operating table.

Beneva Wells-38

Name: Beneva Wells
Age at time of Dissection: 38
Type of Dissection: Ascending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 21 October 2015
Tell Us Your Story:

I‘m an RN and started to have chest pain at work one night at 2:30am while talking to a coworker in the hallway. They sat me down took my BP it was 207/117 insisted I go to the ED. Long story short I described the pain to the ER doctor as it radiating to my back. She ordered a CTA and found it aortic dissection. Ive had high BP most of my life and recently been juggling meds to regulate it.

The surgery was really intense and an eye opener for me. I’ve been married for 19yrs to my high school sweetheart and he took care of me every step of the way in and out of the hospital. I have a beautiful 17yr of daughter about to graduate from high school soon.

I’m about to make some serious changes in my life as a result of my experience. My main issues have been the after effects after the surgery. My recovery hasn’t been been good. I have nerve damage from incisions(which i have 2 midline and axilla ) and I can feel my sternal wires as they pinch and pull on a day basis. I’m in constant pain or discomfort and had to see pain management doctors.

My surgeon has decided his part is done so he sees no reason for me to continue to see him unless there is a problem. Is it possible for sternal wires to be placed incorrectly? Is there anyone in my similar situation?

Erica Williams-37

Name: Erica Williams
Age at time of Dissection: 37
Type of Dissection: Ascending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 8 November 2015
Tell Us Your Story:

Sunday November 8th I did not feel well and decided to stay home from the grocery store with my 2 year old . My fiance went to the store. While he was gone I called him and said”my blood pressure was 179/129 and I thought I needed to go to the emergency room.

He was checking out then. I had laid my baby down for a nap. I called my parents to come sit with her and got ready to go to the ER. I had told my mother the day before that I couldn’t get a deep breath and my neck glands were swollen. I had been sick and on antibiotics so I assumed it was related. My life will be forever changed . At about 3:30 pm on Nov 8th we headed to the ER.

About a mile up the road I told my fiancé to hurry that it”the pain” was getting worse. I grabbed my neck. He told me to calm down and take 3 deep breaths. He needed to go right to get on the interstate but as I took the third breath. I had a stroke, my hands curled and I fell in his lap. He had dialed 911.They had an ambulance not far from us. So he turned left and met them in a parking lot. I was in shock having convulsions. I stopped breathing for about a minute but they got an oxygen mask on me and were able to stabilize me.

Twenty min and then we headed to the hospital where I had a CT scan a MRI then the 2nd CT scan showed I had a dissected asending aorta. The surgeon made no promises to my family about me making it through surgery. Seven hours later and 4 days I finally was stable enough for them to take me off enough sedatives to allow me to get my chest tubes and breathing tube out.I only have brief memories of this time.

Visions of faces of my loved ones and children. We have a total of 6 children. None of which were home besides the 2 year old when this occurred. I had a stroke in my right side . I had minimal use of my right leg and no use of my right hand and arm. Miraculously I regained it all within about a month. I worked with therapists in the hospital which I was there for 12 days.

Seven of those in CCU . I had to learn to swallow and chew again. It has been a very long almost 2 months. But I am determined to get better and learn everything I can about this disease. I believe I have a mutation of Marfans and I had a family history all male on my fathers side of dissections and aneurysm.

Hopefully I will know more soon. I had troubles off and on with my blood pressure since I was 25 but had been off medication for several years. I did not have blood pressure issues during my pregnancy and thought I was OK since I had her. I apparently was wrong. It has been a struggle to get it regulated and my heart rate still runs about 85 but with time I hope and pray it gets better.

Doreen Gardner-33

Name: Doreen Gardner
Age at time of Dissection: 33
Type of Dissection: Ascending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 19 November 2014
Tell Us Your Story:

I was at work November 19 just finished breakfast and felt a sharp pain along my left jaw line and pressure in my chest. I didn’t feel anything else but then my vision became tunneled and I was going to go home and go to bed. I work in a hospital and was told to go to the ER, so even though I didn’t want to I went had an x-ray and labs drew, the lab that shows if you have a blood clot came back positive, so I was sent for cat scan. I was back from CT a minute and the Dr. looked nervous. All I was thinking was please don’t be looking at my scan.

The dr headed to my area and asked if I was a Veteran when I replied “no” she said we are going to lifeline you to Methodist. I swear time stood still, I didn’t understand what was going on. I felt fine other then the discomfort in my jaw, I said “What do you mean what is wrong with me?” She said you have an aortic dissection and your bleeding is into your belly. The phone calls to my family were made and off to Methodist I went. I had emergency surgery of 12 hours my kidneys shutdown and a stint was placed to open them up. Thursday November 20th they weren’t sure I was going to wake up or live. My kidney function returned I believe Friday afternoon.

I was basically in a coma for 5 days and suffered a mild stroke. My short term memory was gone I didn’t understand why I was in the hospital and I looked at my scar and cried. During surgery they found more problems, an aneurysm was on the back of my heart and one in my abdomen, and another in my neck. I’ve had a cardiologist since I was 19 years old and not once was I educated on aneurisms and that they could kill me…so I was bitter. I’m barely healed from the first surgery and they are talking about another it was a lot to process. December 17th I go for follow up appointment, thy read the ct report that I’m on the bubble so I’ll get another scan in 6 month and see if its bigger and discuss surgery. I’m thinking OK I ‘m going back to work soon no surgery for awhile.

I was wrong I had a voice mail when I got home from the appointment saying they pulled the scan up and the aneurysm is much larger then they thought and I was no longer on the bubble I was going to need surgery first week of January. Surgery was scheduled January 8th 2015 (50 days) after emergency open heart and they are now going to cut from my left shoulder blade around my side towards my belly. I turned 34 16 days before that surgery and it went well but I have issues waking up after being under. The one in my abdomen is 3.5 and will be scanned to keep an eye on it. The one in my neck they really have no idea what to do with it, it’s very close to a bone in my neck which makes it not operable. It’s 6mm so I will be doing research on what can happen. I have a 13 year old who I need to live for.

Carlos V-38

Name: Carlos V
Age at time of Dissection: 38
Type of Dissection: Ascending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 15 December 2010
Tell Us Your Story:

My husband was diagnosed with an aortic dissection type B with a 15 centimeter aneurysm after bleeding internally for 5days thinking gas pains. He was given 10% chance of life ( his blood pressure was 225/199) and flown to specialty hospital where he spent the night in the OR room in case they needed to open him up ( I wasn’t’t informed why we were in there- thought the ER rooms were all full).

He survived the night, so we were moved into an actual room. They then gave him 25% for the next few days. Finally, after about 4-5 days, they sent him home with blood pressure medication saying, ” you should clot”. We returned a total of three times with deadly blood pressure levels and pain.

The third time, a doctor said he could/ would operate…after 6 blood transfusions and umpteen hours in the OR room, he came out and they announced that they were able to graph the aorta and “coil” the 15 centimeter aneurysm. They needed to go in again due to reverse blood flow from the coiling of the aneurysm, but it worked! He is now 41 years old, but we do not know how long this will last….

Renee Cooper-36

Name: Renee Cooper
Age at time of Dissection: 36
Type of Dissection: Ascending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 18 January 2012
Tell Us Your Story:

What I thought started out as a normal day ended with Dr.John Jay saving my life. I have lived with high blood pressure since my early twenties but I never took it serious because I thought I’m young I can control my stress without meds and I my body would usually warn me when my blood pressure was off the charts by having major headaches which usually landed me in ER. As I tried to climb the corporate ladder, I worked 14/15 hours days, little sleep and very bad eating habits. I thought to myself that once I make it I would take better care of me. I was wrong,…. Jan 18,2012 started out as normal day. I actually woke up went to work…..had breakfast which is something I never do. Toward the end of the day I felt weird and I mentioned to a co-worker I needed to go to the doctor later in the week for a possible sinus infection. I finished my day and drove home feeling very sweaty and weird inside.

I get home to realize my pup had pooped in his crate which upset me, I take the crate outside to clean it out and I bend over only to eerie nice a pain that felt as if something was ripping in my chest. That day my dad happen to be waiting at my apartment to visit. I came inside and told him I had the worse chest pain, I suddenly felt faint and he suggested we go back outside to get fresh air. As we walked down the steps I felt as if I wanted to faint. Theming was so intense I told him I was having a heart attack and fainted. He called 911 and the ambulance arrived. I was awake and apologized if this was heartburn due to the pizza I had for lunch. Once I arrived at the hospital I vomited several times and could not stand to have my upper Left side of my back touched. It took several attest to get a CT Scan but once they got it my father was told I need emergency surgery due to three tears to my aorta. I remember crying for a brief second and my Dad saying I would be just fine. My sister had passed away at 36 on April 16 2011 and I had been dealing with a difficult boss for the past year so my stress level was 200% times 1000!!!!! I remembering being air lifted to Methodist main hospital in Dallas. I heard my sister say she was with me and I instantly felt calm.

The next five days are a blur but Dr. John Jay was wonderful he gave my dad the facts and made no promises my chance of survival was 5% but he was going to do his best….I woke up 5 days later thinking I was in a car accident. My life has forever been changed. I spent 8 weeks in cardiac rehab and 12 days in the hospital. 3 month recovery, I have a paralyzed diaphragm as a result of my operation and chronic back pain but I’m alive, I never dreamed this could happen I only thought about stokes or brain aneurysms when I thought high blood pressure and foolishly thinking I’m young and invincible. I know take 6 pills daily for the rest of my life. Methodist responded quickly and air lifted me to their main campus where John Jay saved me. My main tears were repaired but I have two that will be monitored for life. My scar is a reminder of how I need to be healthy. I’m a survivor…… I get set and depressed at how easily I get tired but I’m a fighter.

Michael McIntire-36

Name: Michael McIntire
Age at time of Dissection: 36
Type of Dissection: Ascending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 22 March 2012
Tell Us Your Story:

My wife emailed my story to this website when it was still going on. On March 22, 2012 I had emergency open heart surgery to repair an ascending dissection and a valve replacement. After the first surgery I ended up developing a condition called cardiac tamponade, and so they had to open me up a second time on April 20th, 2012. My wife made a video of the whole experience. It explains the whole journey there.

Samantha Neal-30

Name: Samantha Neal
Age at time of Dissection: 30
Type of Dissection: Ascending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 19 July 2012
Tell Us Your Story:

Ifirst had pain on the morning of July 19,2012 while eating breakfast. It was a sharp pain that started at the base of my throat. I was just swallowing a bite of my waffle and thought it was just bad heartburn at first but then my vision sort of went dark for a moment and my lower jaw and bottom teeth started feeling numb and tingling. I can’t say the pain was all that bad really. I only called my husband because of the near-fainting and I certainly did not want my newborn to be by himself if I were to pass out.

Well, my husband being the hero that he is, came home from work right away (took him about ten minutes) and by then the pain was more in the center of my chest. I would maybe rate it 5/10 (I’m an RN). Since it did not go away we went to the small hospital where I work and they did all the cardiac blood work which, of course, was negative. Then the Dr. ordered a CT with contrast to check for PE. The CT did not show any abnormalities. The Dr. said it was probably GERD or possibly a gall bladder attack. I felt very silly. After a GI cocktail I lied and said I felt better. I was given a script for protonix and sent home. I didn’t take a single protonix. I didn’t know what was wrong but I knew it wasn’t GERD.

I made a follow-up appointment with my famiy Dr. and saw him on July 26th. Let me tell ya that was a miserable 6 days. When I would lay down it felt like a knife was stabbing me in the chest and back so it was nearly impossible to get comfortable to sleep. I was also nursing a newborn every 2-3 hours. My poor husband had to put up with quite a bit of whining. Anyway…when I finally saw my Dr. that morning at 9:30 he decided to admit me to a larger hospital close by to get IV antibiotics and gall bladder tests. (I was also running a fever thanks to a UTI).

On day 2 in the hospital my Dr came and said he saw some fluid on my heart and ordered a consult with a cardiologist to check it out. Cardiologist ordered an echo and bingo! Mystery finally solved! They did another CT with contrast that confirmed I had a Stanford type II dissection. I was taken to ICU and told I had two choices: have the surgery repair done there which they said they had a “fair” amount of success with, or I could take a helicopter ride to Vanderbilt where they have a higher success rate and deal with this type of emergencies more. “Chopper, Please!!”

So my surgery was done at Vanderbilt on July 27th and I can’t say enough good things about the doctors and nurses there. It’s a wonderful hospital full of awesome people. I can’t figure out how to put a link to the news article but anyone who might be interested can google Samantha Neal aortic dissection and find the story. Love this site and reading all the stories!

Whitney Davis-34

Name: Whitney Davis
Age at time of Dissection: 34
Type of Dissection: Ascending
Date of Aortic Dissection:  9 September 2011
Tell Us Your Story:

This is an article that was written about my story.  It’s almost been a year since it happened.  I am so grateful to be alive!

Whitney Davis looked out the window of the helicopter as it passed over Lake Ray Hubbard, then the lush green trees of East Dallas. The Dallas skyline passed in the distance.

“I remember how beautiful everything looked, how peaceful and quiet it seemed,” the 33-year-old mother of two recalls. “I think it was my brain’s way of trying to calm myself. I knew that with every beat of my heart, I was bleeding to death.”

Whitney was being rushed to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas with a dissecting aorta, one of the deadliest medical conditions on Earth. The condition happens when the aorta, the major artery that runs down the center of the chest cavity and carries blood throughout the body, begins to tear. A tiny hole in the wall of this pipeline can quickly grow, leading to severe internal bleeding and, in a matter of minutes, death. Aortic dissections that rupture have an 80 percent mortality rate, with 50 percent of patients never making it to the hospital. It’s the same medical condition that killed actor John Ritter.

But Whitney’s condition was even more complicated. The tear was also ripping a hole in her left main coronary artery, which branches off the aorta. It’s the primary blood supply to the heart. If the tear broke open and ruptured in that branch of the aorta, it could be instantly fatal.

“As soon as we landed, there was a team of nurses and doctors right there, looking over me, hooking me up to machines, getting me ready for surgery,” she said. “I just kept praying and had faith that I would see my family again. I put my life in their hands.”

Whitney had just given birth three days earlier to her second child, daughter Willow. Pain Whitney had felt radiating down her back and neck was from the epidural for the C-section, she thought. Or maybe it was just general discomfort after delivery and the aftereffects of pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy). That’s why doctors decided to deliver Willow early.

The discomfort led her to a follow-up appointment with her obstetrician who sent her across the street to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Rockwall for a precautionary CT scan. She had the diagnostic test after seeing her daughter in the NICU for the first time and just one day after being discharged from giving birth. The test revealed the potentially deadly tear in her aorta, a condition that was worsening by the second.

“I can cut and sew, but only God can save somebody’s life,” said Dr. Mark Pool, a cardiothoracic surgeon on the medical staff at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.
She still had never held Willow.

“I remember lying in the Rockwall ER and everyone was talking about CareFlite and an emergency transfer,” she recalls. “I asked who the helicopter was for, and a doctor turned to me and said, ‘It’s for you.’”

Minutes later Whitney was on that helicopter ride to Texas Health Dallas.

Once there, Dr. Mark Pool, a cardiovascular surgeon on the medical staff at Texas Health Dallas, entered the room and talked to Whitney and her husband, Chad, about what was going to happen. She needed major open-heart surgery to fix the aorta. The large tear was traveling up the ascending part of the blood vessel, then going down the descending aorta, which delivers blood to abdominal organs and the rest of the lower body.

“What we didn’t know at the time was the dissection of her coronary artery,” Pool said.

He wouldn’t know that until surgery was under way. The complication meant Pool would have to do a complete aortic root replacement: implanting a new mechanical aortic valve in her heart, replacing the damaged aorta, and stitching shut the tear in the left main cardiac artery.

“When they were wheeling me down to surgery, I started praying and this peace came over me,” she recalls. “I said, ‘I’m not going to die.’ I told myself that over and over again.”

During the procedure, Whitney’s heart was stopped and she was put on a heart-lung machine. Pool and Dr. Thomas Russell, an anesthesiologist on the medical staff at Texas Health Dallas, cooled Whitney’s body to 15 degrees Celsius to lower her metabolism. Called deep hypothermic circulatory arrest, the procedure slowed her blood circulation to near standstill.

“This both reduces the organs’ need for blood and allows the surgeons to repair the damaged aorta,” Russell said.

Because aortic surgeries can cause brain injury due to oxygen deprivation, Pool performed a type of bypass, called selective antegrade cerebral perfusion, that kept her brain supplied with oxygen-rich blood. In this specialized procedure, Pool connected the heart pump directly to the arteries supplying the brain with blood. Arteries feeding less important tissue were clamped off. Once he got to the critical point of repairing the torn section of aorta, the heart-lung machine was turned off, stopping blood circulation completely. That keeps blood from circulating through the heart cavity and aorta, allowing Pool to see the tissue more clearly and operate more precisely.

Circulation was stopped for 12 minutes, the time it took to take out the damaged aorta and implant a new section of artery. Then the heart lung machine was restarted, and the aortic valve was replaced and damaged coronary artery repaired.

In all, the surgery would take more than six hours. All the while, he and Russell vigilantly watched for bleeding, one of the most common and serious complications of aortic dissection. Russell used thrombelastography, which helps measure levels of blood components, to determine what was needed to help Whitney’s blood clot. Clotting factors were carefully administered, but no blood transfusions were needed.

Whitney’s body temperature was returned to normal and her circulatory system, including blood pressure, stabilized.

It would be almost midnight before Pool, Russell, and Dr. David Fosdick, a cardiothoracic surgeon on the medical staff at Texas Health Dallas who assisted during the procedure, completed the surgery.

“It was an emotional moment when I first went out to Chad and told him that it looked like she would be OK,” Pool said. “I thanked him for praying for her — and for me.”

Despite the seriousness of Whitney’s initial condition, a successful surgery meant her odds of recovery were almost flipped; now she had a greater than 80 percent chance of a full recovery, Pool said.

Less than 48 hours later, she remembers waking up, though she couldn’t see right away because of medications. But she could hear her sister’s voice.

“At that moment I knew I was alive.”

Chad spent that day going back and forth between the ICU room Whitney was in and the NICU at Texas Health Rockwall, where Willow was.

“I wanted to be in three places at one time,” he said. “Whitney and Willow were both still in critical situations and our little boy Carson (9 years old) was dealing with the emotional roller coaster of all of this as well. I just wanted the four of us to be together in one place for the first time.”

Whitney would be removed from the ventilator later that morning. Across town, her daughter Willow, still in the neonatal intensive care unit, was also “turning the corner,” Chad says. “At almost the same time Whitney was being taken off the respirator, Willow was taken off her respirator as well. They both started breathing on their own, almost simultaneously.”

While baby Willow was slowly putting on weight by the day, mom was working hard to recover from her surgery. She began to work with physical and respiratory therapists to get her strength back. In a matter of days she was out of the ICU and walking up and down the halls of the cardiac unit.

“Whatever they told me to do, I did: sitting up, breathing exercises, getting out of bed,” she said. “All I kept thinking was that I needed to be with Willow and Carson.”

Whitney was discharged on a Wednesday morning. First stop was Texas Health Rockwall to see Willow.

“She had been on a breathing machine and up until that day had not been allowed to be held outside the incubator in the NICU,” Whitney said. “I was the first one to hold her. That was a really special moment for me.”

Two days later, Willow was released from the hospital and joined Chad, Whitney and Carson at their home for the first night together as a healthy family of four.

“You’d never know Willow was in the neonatal ICU,” Whitney says. “For me, there’s a scar from the surgery, and if I am alone in a silent place I can hear the subtle clicking sound of my new mechanical valve working in my heart. My scar and that ‘click’ allow people to see and hear that miracles still happen.

“I’m living proof of it.”

A note of thanks from Chad Davis:
“From the moment Whitney arrived at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, every doctor, nurse and employee that I came into contact with was very caring and helpful. On behalf of The Davis family I would like to thank the entire team of nurses, doctors and staff who saw to Whitney. We are so grateful and happy that in our split second decision of where to have Whitney taken to that we chose Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. We were also so fortunate to have Dr. Pool available. He is a very special surgeon and a very special human being. Our family has a nickname for him, we simply call him ‘The Man.’ Now our son, Carson, wants to be a doctor when he grows up after seeing how Dr. Pool helped saved his mom’s life.”

Anthony Huskey-38

Name: Anthony Huskey
Age at time of Dissection: 38
Type of Dissection: Ascending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 23 June 1994
Tell Us Your Story:

While at work, after drinking a cup coffee, felt like a red hot sword ran through my body,went to first aid, body systems dumping, anxiety-shock hit, ambulance ride, MISSED Diagnosis, next day Echo tech finds problem,emergency surgery,10% chance to live,seasoned veteran here— 18yrs since mine—still work full time .

I am the exception to the rule-Meadox woven double V graph 30mm got a warranty card on it- if i can help anyone w/ this problem i will—-no pussass work here papermill in s.e. tx—and I got an artificial knee…..forget feelin’ sorry for yourself—shit happens—deal with it —-pick ur self up by your bootstraps n’ make it happen—1 day at a time

Nathan Cook-39


Nathan Cook always told people that God could work miracles, but he wasn’t entirely certain he believed it.
But now, the 39-year-old pastor knows God can do anything.
“Any prayer requests, any need, anything,” he said Wednesday. “I believe it 100 percent because of what he’s done in my life.”
Nearly three months ago, Cook suffered a major stroke and two seizures that took away his ability to walk, hold his children or play basketball.
But today, he is on the road to full recovery, thanks to physical therapy and his faith in God.
Cook will tell his story at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at the First Assembly of God Church, where he serves as the youth and music pastor.
He said he wants to send the message that when people worship God, he will help them.
“We’re created to praise him and give him worship,” Cook said. “And when we do, no matter what the circumstance is, he sees it and he moves on our behalf.”

Medical crisis
Cook’s story began at 3:30 a.m. March 30, when he woke up with severe chest pains. He thought he was having a heart attack and asked his wife to call paramedics.
As he waited for the ambulance, he began feeling worse. His legs were numb from the waist down, and the paramedics treated him for a heart attack.
But when the doctors at Western Plains Medical Complex conducted a CT scan, they discovered Cook had suffered a stroke with three brain bleeds.
Cook was later airlifted to Wesley Medical Center in Wichita for treatment.
He said he was glad that he hadn’t suffered a heart attack.
“I felt relieved, thinking that maybe my struggles were over — for the most part, anyway,” he said.
But his struggle was just beginning.
The Wesley doctors found that Cook’s aorta had ruptured, and the arteries had started to spill out.
Cook said he later learned that high blood pressure had caused the stroke and the ruptured aorta.
“I did have a history of high blood pressure,” he said. “But two years ago, it wasn’t very high at all, so I stopped taking my medicine. I didn’t know that this would happen and it would go right through the roof. It was in the high 200s when it happened that night.”
He said the Wesley doctors weren’t sure what caused the problem in his legs, so they checked him for a tumor but didn’t find anything.
Nine days after the stroke, Cook suffered two seizures three hours apart that caused his heart to stop. He quit breathing and began slipping toward death.
Several hours later, the doctors revived Cook, started him breathing again and put him on life support. He did not slip into a coma, but he was so heavily sedated and in so much pain that he was unconscious for the next three and a half weeks.
When Cook finally awoke, he started therapy so he could learn to walk and talk again. By the time he left Wesley, he could use a walker to travel a few feet before he had to sit down.
Cook’s upper body, speech and cognitive skills began to return, and he was on the road to recovery. He later transferred to Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln, Neb., to continue his therapy.

‘You are a miracle’
When Cook arrived in Lincoln, a team of therapists started working with him every day on moving his muscles and improving his cognitive skills. But his therapists were reluctant to push him because of his dissected aorta.
He said the therapists told him even if he had surgery to fix the aorta, he could not lift more than 20 pounds, walk briskly or run for the rest of his life.
“I’m a youth pastor, so I was very active with youth,” he said. “I have four kids. So to think that I could never lift my kids again for the rest of my life, that crushed me.”
Cook later visited Dr. Mohammed Quader, a topflight heart surgeon in Omaha, to discuss his aorta.
After studying Cook’s medical records, Quader had some startling news.
“He looked me into the face, introduced himself and he said, ‘I can’t believe that I’m looking at you.’ He said, ‘You are a miracle.
“‘Because everyone that has this with their dissected aorta happen to them, no one has lived. Everyone has died. But you’re alive, and you’re doing great.'”
Quader said in most cases, the arteries spill out of the aorta and find their way into the body’s vital organs, spoiling them. When that happens, the patient dies.
Cook’s arteries had spilled out of the aorta, but they stopped and began to regrow before spoiling any vital organs.
Cook would not need surgery to repair his heart, and his therapists could start pushing him harder. Once his legs recovered, he could run, walk and play basketball again.
“I just said ‘Praise God’ and walked out with my wife and rejoiced in the fact that God worked with what we felt was our last obstacle,” Cook said. “God did an amazing thing.”
Armed with that knowledge, Cook returned to Lincoln and resumed working with his therapists. But this time, they worked him much harder.

‘The extra mile’
Today, Cook is undergoing outpatient therapy three times a week at the Dodge City Medical Center. He started the therapy June 1 and will continue for another two and a half months.
Cook can walk again, although he needs a walker. He cannot stand up with a sitting position without help, so he’s working on that with his therapist.
But he’s pushing himself to improve every day, and he’s pleased with his progress so far.
Cook said when he awoke three and a half weeks after his seizures, he wondered why he was still alive. But the next day, Cook and his wife clasped hands and vowed to trust God, no matter what happened.
“God kind of put some faith in me the next day just to keep believing in him for the extra mile,” he said. “And it’s been that way every day.
“He’s been just doing radical things in my life every day.”

Reach Eric Swanson at (620) 408-9917 or email him at
Copyright 2011 Dodge City Daily Globe. Some rights reserved

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Mark Jones-32

Name: mark jones
Age at time of Dissection: 32
Type of Dissection: Ascending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 28 June 2004

Tell Us Your Story: hello…in june of 04 i had an aortic dissection….aorta tore from top to bottom…doctors said i need immediate emergency surgery..that i had a 5% chance of surviving….a nurse in the surgery said i went flatline 3 times..came out the surgery and went into a coma for 3 months..doctors told my family to prepare because i showed no brain activity…i was not coming out of the coma…i was in intensive care for i think 3 months….i had a collapsed lung, a feeding tube in me, my kidney shut down, i have permanent nerve damage in my back, legs, and feet..i’m on dialysis….it left me paralyzed from the waist down…for 5 years…i was in the hospital for over 2 years…..had to learn how to do everything all over again…i lost everything…my wife, kids, family,job,and my health……these lat few years have been really hard for me…..feels like i have nothing left… more fight…..its a struggle just to get up everyday..please contact me….i need help…

Contact Mark..

Thanks for stopping by to view our stories. Please help me keep the site going by shopping at’s very much appreciated. Brian Tinsley founder of (please book mark the link once you get to for future purchases!)

Tom Kadesch-37

Name: Tom Kadesch
Age at time of Dissection: 37
Type of Dissection: Ascending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 11 December 2008

Tell Us Your Story: My story was written up in Bethesda Magazine – the author did a far better job writing it than I could have, so it’s probably best if I just provide the link to the article instead of typing out the whole story. Thanks for spending time putting together such a great website.

Thanks for stopping by to view our stories. Please help me keep the site going by shopping at’s very much appreciated. Brian Tinsley founder of (please book mark the link once you get to for future purchases!)

Frank Hemmer-38

Name: franko hemmer
Age at time of Dissection: 38
Type of Dissection: Ascending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 13 February 2006 Tell Us Your Story: well to start i was in homeless shelter in norristown pa. on welfare very angry and walking from the library when i yelled at god he told me he wasn’t done w/me and i told him off and a little further down the road BOOM!!! man so much pain un (the “f” word) in believable !got the scar to prove it.

I get all kinds of stories from all walks of life, no one is spared.


Thanks for stopping by to view our stories. Please help me keep the site going by shopping at’s very much appreciated. Brian Tinsley founder of (please book mark the link once you get to for future purchases!)

Roosevelt Williams son-34

Age at time of Dissection: 34
Type of Dissection: Ascending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 10 July 2009
Tell Us Your Story:

My 34 year old son was diagnosed with a virus called percariditus on April 10, 2009, he was not treated and sent home from the hospital emergency room doctor. On April 21st 2009 my son died, I was told it was from the virus. I received the coroners report in July 2009 and that is when I found out that he had died from Aortic Dissection.

Thanks for stopping by to view our stories. Please help me keep the site going by shopping at’s very much appreciated. Brian Tinsley founder of (please book mark the link once you get to for future purchases!)

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