Back to Life After an Aortic Aneurysm – Part II

As part of our commitment to providing the best patient-centered care possible, our team of physicians, nurses, specialists, and staff make advancing the medical possibilities a priority each and every day. There are only so many factors we can control, however, and sometimes, it is perfect timing coupled with the efforts of our team that make treatment for our patients that much more successful.

Warren "Allen" Owens

Take Allen Owens, for example. He may be someone you’re familiar with if you frequent our heart & vascular blog. We introduced you to him in a post a few weeks back detailing his remarkable story. Prior to arriving at Emory, Allen experienced 8 heart attacks, 21 congestive heart failures, had 13 stents placed, had 5 bypass surgeries (4 of them failed) and had taken 4 life flights (emergency helicopter rides to the hospital). On each life flight he was not expected to make it to the hospital because of his critical status.

It may sound like Allen faced a run of unfortunate health bad luck. After all, he did what he could to prevent a decline in his health. He’s not a smoker or a drinker, and considered himself to be a relatively healthy adult.

Perhaps surprisingly, it was when his local doctors were out of answers that Allen’s life (and luck) changed for the better. He was referred to Emory and last summer, received another diagnosis to add to his plate – Allen’s abdominal aorta was weakening and he had developed an aortic aneurysm that was ballooning and could burst at any time. You may be wondering, what’s lucky about that? The majority of aortic aneurysms are found after they burst, and fortunately, doctors caught Allen’s prior to this happening.

What’s more, Allen’s health wasn’t strong enough to undergo another heart surgery to repair the problem. Once again, Allen’s luck was changing for the better. At about the same time that Allen was diagnosed with his aortic aneurysm, Dr. Joseph Ricotta, a vascular surgeon, had just transitioned his career at the Mayo Clinic to working at Emory Healthcare. At the Mayo Clinic, Dr. Ricotta had perfected a new procedure to treat aortic aneurysms, an alternative aortic aneurysm treatment he brought with him to Emory– the use of fenestrated and branched aortic endografts, a procedure Dr. Ricotta has performed approximately 120 times thus far.

Six months after performing this revolutionary procedure for Allen, Dr. Ricotta told Fox 5 News the graft is working perfectly, “The aneurysm’s shrinking actually. There’s no evidence of leak and all the branches to his intestines and kidneys are open and look very good.”

The procedure and Dr. Ricotta’s presence in Atlanta have hopefully put an end to this Cherokee County native’s run of bad luck. It’s Allen’s hope now, that with his condition under control, he will be able to qualify for a heart transplant. “This will be eight years in April, that I’m not supposed to have,” Allen told Fox 5 News.

You can learn more about the fenestrated and branched aortic endograft procedure for aortic aneurysms, and learn more about the story of Allen Owens by watching this video from Fox 5 News below:

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