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.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 42772

Reported Deaths: 1542
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin13697791
Ramsey5313234
Dakota275396
Stearns253619
Anoka2458111
Nobles16946
Washington130641
Olmsted130220
Mower9872
Scott8994
Rice8928
Clay62038
Kandiyohi5951
Blue Earth5862
Wright5475
Carver5002
Todd4042
Sherburne3725
Lyon3512
Freeborn3140
Watonwan2720
Steele2501
Benton2423
St. Louis23816
Nicollet20712
Martin1755
Winona15015
Cottonwood1420
Goodhue1428
Le Sueur1361
Crow Wing11512
Otter Tail1151
Pine1150
Chisago1111
McLeod1030
Dodge990
Carlton940
Polk903
Unassigned8838
Pipestone864
Isanti830
Murray830
Chippewa811
Waseca800
Itasca7612
Douglas740
Morrison691
Becker680
Meeker661
Faribault610
Jackson580
Sibley572
Beltrami550
Pennington540
Brown492
Wabasha430
Mille Lacs412
Renville373
Fillmore360
Rock350
Swift351
Grant320
Houston320
Yellow Medicine310
Roseau280
Lincoln250
Redwood250
Koochiching221
Wilkin223
Norman210
Cass202
Big Stone180
Kanabec181
Wadena180
Aitkin160
Marshall160
Clearwater150
Mahnomen131
Pope130
Stevens110
Hubbard100
Lake90
Traverse70
Lac qui Parle50
Red Lake50
Kittson20
Cook10
Lake of the Woods00

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 35534

Reported Deaths: 754
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk7611185
Woodbury334944
Black Hawk253459
Buena Vista173811
Johnson14878
Dallas141531
Linn141083
Marshall110019
Scott109810
Dubuque100023
Story8778
Pottawattamie84113
Wapello71631
Muscatine69545
Crawford6813
Sioux5050
Tama48829
Webster4295
Wright3991
Louisa36713
Jasper35717
Plymouth3535
Warren3371
Cerro Gordo3291
Dickinson3073
Washington2559
Hamilton2041
Boone1751
Clay1511
Clarke1453
Clinton1391
Allamakee1384
Mahaska11917
Shelby1190
Carroll1171
Bremer1167
Franklin1130
Poweshiek1128
Pocahontas1091
Des Moines1022
Emmet970
Cedar961
Henry933
Hardin920
Cherokee851
Marion840
Floyd822
Guthrie814
Taylor810
Benton781
Monona780
Jones741
Butler702
Osceola690
Sac680
Jackson670
Buchanan651
Calhoun652
Iowa631
Jefferson630
Hancock621
Harrison620
Lyon610
Humboldt601
Fayette590
Delaware581
Madison562
Lee542
Mills530
Palo Alto530
Monroe527
Clayton503
Winneshiek500
Grundy470
Mitchell470
Winnebago440
Davis431
Kossuth430
Union430
Howard370
Lucas354
Unassigned350
Chickasaw310
Greene310
Cass300
Worth270
Appanoose243
Keokuk241
Ida230
Page220
Van Buren211
Audubon181
Adair170
Ringgold161
Montgomery152
Decatur130
Fremont110
Wayne110
Adams80
Rochester
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 74°
Mason City
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 82°
Albert Lea
Broken Clouds
75° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 75°
Austin
Broken Clouds
77° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 79°
Charles City
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 79°
Slight Risk of Severe Storms Tuesday as a Cold Front approaches
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Getting Back to School physicals during the Pandemic

Image

'Cradle 2 Career' hosting discussion about race

Image

Dave's Main 6:30 Weather 7-14

Image

Sean's 10pm Weather 7/13

Image

Albert Lea council considers Covid response

Image

Rochester Police Policy Conversation

Image

Training the area's best basketball stars

Image

Pandemic Positive: A decline in air pollution

Image

Sen. Smith Highlights Health Inequalities

Image

School district weighs back to school options

Community Events