Woman with rare aneurysms gets life-saving surgery

Imagine two highly skilled surgeons taking care of you? As Susan Watson found out, it's now a reality at Abrazo Arizo...

Posted: Feb 15, 2018 4:57 PM
Updated: Feb 15, 2018 4:57 PM

Imagine two highly skilled surgeons taking care of you? As Susan Watson found out, it's now a reality at Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital's new Institute for Advanced Aortic Disease.

More than a year ago, a visit to her doctor for bronchitis, led to an alarming x-ray. Her doctor immediately sent the 68-year-old for further testing which revealed several aneurysms.

"They said if I don't take care of the aneurysms now, they are going to burst," Watson said.

However this wasn't your typical surgery. As Dr. Rick Kirshner, co-director of the new Institute for Advanced Aortic Disease explains, her situation was dire.

"She had an aneurysm through her entire aorta, something very unique. It started at the root, worked all the way up, went into the blood vessels that go into the brain, worked down into her chest and then went into her abdomen," Kirshner said.

Sound complicated? It is. The good news is with Abrazo Arizona's Heart Hospital's new institute, they have trained for these severe cases.

"We're trying to build a combination of the cardiac surgeons with Dr. Kirschner, the vascular surgeon with me, the endovascular surgeon and a team of nurses and nurse practitioners. They will take care of the patients before they come in, do all the testing and follow the patients after the procedure is done," said Dr. Venkatesh Ramaiah, co-director of the Institute for Aortic Disease.

One of the main problems with Susan's surgery was not with the surgery itself, but trying keep the body functioning during this major procedure said Kirshner.

"Dr. Ramaiah and I had to figure out how to re-plumb this whole blood supply and keep her organs fed with blood. So we had to map it out using diagrams and different models to figure out how to do that."

And that's one of the many benefits of having two surgeons who specialize in treating different aortic conditions in the operating room. The other? Having four eyes instead of two, plus a wealth of knowledge.

"He's done and seen things I've never done before. And I've done and seen things he's never done before. The work I do in the ascending aorta and the work he does in the abdominal aorta is very different. So we can look at a problem, come at it from different directions and then come up with a solution very quickly," according to Dr. Kirshner.

The surgery was a huge success and Susan has responded remarkably. She admits a lot of people didn't expect her to make it out of surgery alive but says her faith in God and the amazing surgeons pulled her through.

"I'm so grateful to them, for their brilliance, for their giftedness, for their expertise and for their skill. Without them, I truly believe I would not be alive today," says Susan.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 27900

Reported Deaths: 1082
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds215239
DeSoto137316
Madison122234
Jones106949
Neshoba96069
Lauderdale88278
Rankin84112
Forrest81442
Scott75015
Harrison7448
Copiah56615
Leake54819
Jackson53316
Holmes52741
Wayne52112
Washington4969
Lee49316
Oktibbeha48624
Yazoo4736
Leflore47249
Lowndes45311
Warren44317
Lincoln43534
Lamar4197
Grenada3805
Monroe36729
Pike36712
Attala35223
Lafayette3524
Newton3289
Sunflower3066
Covington3025
Bolivar27713
Panola2706
Adams26718
Chickasaw25918
Tate2577
Jasper2506
Marion24811
Pontotoc2476
Noxubee2458
Pearl River24432
Winston2435
Clay24210
Claiborne23610
Simpson2303
Smith20611
Clarke20124
Marshall2013
Coahoma1866
Kemper17614
Union1759
Walthall1724
Yalobusha1617
Carroll16011
Lawrence1591
Itawamba1278
Calhoun1244
Humphreys1239
Tippah12311
Webster12310
Montgomery1222
Hancock12013
Jefferson Davis1064
Tallahatchie1043
Prentiss983
Greene927
Jefferson923
Wilkinson919
Tunica893
Amite822
George743
Choctaw714
Quitman680
Tishomingo681
Perry614
Alcorn561
Stone521
Franklin382
Benton270
Sharkey240
Issaquena71
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 38442

Reported Deaths: 947
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson4387142
Montgomery383999
Mobile3697134
Tuscaloosa204938
Marshall153710
Lee118937
Shelby108223
Madison10577
Morgan9813
Walker86723
Franklin85213
Dallas8198
Elmore81314
Baldwin6869
Etowah62513
Butler60427
DeKalb6025
Chambers58127
Tallapoosa56369
Autauga54511
Unassigned52025
Russell4840
Lowndes45820
Lauderdale4446
Houston4344
Limestone4090
Cullman4003
Pike3995
Colbert3685
Bullock3629
Coffee3532
Barbour3231
Covington3087
St. Clair3042
Hale29321
Marengo28611
Wilcox2808
Sumter27612
Calhoun2705
Talladega2677
Clarke2665
Escambia2636
Dale2440
Jackson2382
Winston2333
Blount2141
Chilton2112
Pickens2116
Marion20312
Monroe1972
Choctaw19212
Conecuh1804
Bibb1711
Macon1708
Randolph1709
Greene1667
Perry1451
Henry1303
Crenshaw1233
Lawrence1010
Washington1007
Cherokee747
Lamar711
Fayette671
Geneva670
Clay582
Coosa551
Cleburne291
Out of AL00
Tupelo
Clear
83° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 86°
Columbus
Few Clouds
75° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 75°
Oxford
Scattered Clouds
86° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 95°
Starkville
Scattered Clouds
73° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 73°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather