I survived an AAA rupture

by S. Reuter

It happened in January 2001 when I was 72 years old.

No warning. I was at work 30 miles from home. Symptoms were nausea and diarrhea. I drove home, passed out, woke up four days later at St. Mary's hospital in Rochester, MN. After passing out my wife called the paramedics who took me to a local hospital.

Attending physician diagnosed the problem, arranged for a medivac helicopter to take me to Mayo Clinic in Rochester (100 miles)where a young surgeon (female)repaired the rupture. After 11 days I returned home by car.

Subsequent conversations with the surgeon revealed that the rupture was in the back of the aorta and that as long as I was sitting down there wasn't a great deal of leakage. It was only after standing up that the leakage increased.

There were followup ultra sounds and consultation with the operating surgeon in Rochester. The frequency of these procedures was lengthened to every three years as each ultrasound revealed no further cause for concern.

Conversations with other doctors indicate their amazement that I survived this and gave a great deal of credit to to operating surgeon.

I currently have had all records transferred to a local hospital and cardiologist who insists on an annual examination.

I am now 86 years old. It took me a full year to fully recover. Brain damage was feared but apparently there was none. I was able to return to work after about six weeks.

This experience reveals the following: AAA's are heredity. My father died following a AAA repair procedure. He was 85 years old and was a lifetime heavy smoker.

Screenings are important and I would recommend it be done especially if there is a family history. While most doctors will say that ruptures prior to the operating table are usually fatal this was one case of survival. My experience shows that it can be survived.

I owe my life to many including the local attending physician, the operating surgeon, the paramedics and staff in the helicopter that kept me alive during the flight. I am indeed one lucky man.

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Apr 27, 2016
Re: I survived an AAA rupture

Dear Mr. Reuter,

Your story is indeed an amazing one! Thank you for sharing. I couldn't agree more with you that you are certainly a luck man!

Ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is among the top most common cause of death in the USA among men greater than 65 years of age. As you know, once ruptured, more than half of such patients would die.

You had your surgery at 72, and you are now 86!

Very heart warming. Your story is a huge testimony to why everyone with risk factors for this condition should be proactive and get screened!

Thank you again.

Dr. Omatseye Edema MD MSc MRCGP CCFP DRCOG
Family Physician, Emergency Medicine Practitioner and WebMD

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