Ceilidh Mailman started to feel sick in late 2020, like she had a terrible flu, before learning she had endocarditis, a colony of bacteria growing on her heart valve. The infection spread from her heart to her shoulder and lungs. “This time it was really, really scary. And I could have died, ”said the Truro woman.
Usually, such an infection would be treated with open heart surgery, an often painful experience that comes with a long recovery time.
Instead, a specialist team of 15 members of the new interventional radiology rooms at QEII Health Science Center were able to cure her without surgery in December. She was home with her family for Christmas.
The AngioVac procedure involves inserting a tube into the neck and leg and pumping the blood out of the person, through a filter that removes the infection, and back into the person. This means that the patient retains their original heart valve and blood, and does not need to be opened and stitched up.
“The AngioVac procedure was truly a miracle – I was even able to stand and walk right after having this procedure. It was really amazing, ”Mailman said.
The team included experts in cardiac surgery, interventional radiology, cardiac anesthesia and cardiovascular perfusion.
QEII’s interventional radiology suites opened in November 2020 and can help healthcare professionals diagnose and treat diseases such as cancer, stroke, and dangerous bleeding.
Cardiac surgeon Dr Keir Stewart led the team that performed the procedure on Mailman.
“Ceilidh’s story is not uncommon. Five years ago, it was rare to see a tricuspid valve infection. Now QEII cardiac surgeons perform up to 10 surgeries per year, mostly on young intravenous drug users, ”he mentioned.
He said the AngioVac procedure will help more people in the years to come, resulting in shorter wait lists and faster recovery times.
Stop a line in its tracks
Dr Robert Berry, chief of the interventional radiology department, said that if someone has a stroke, his team can stop it by using a procedure that extracts the blood clot that causes the stroke out of the artery. .
“Instead of this patient spending their whole life being paralyzed or unable to speak, they can have this miraculous healing where when we take that stroke out of the person’s artery, they make a full recovery without a deficit,” he said. he declares.
Berry’s team is on track to perform 7,600 such procedures in 2021, up from 1,600 compared to 2020. For patients, this means shorter wait times and faster recoveries. They hope to add two more IR suites, which could allow them to perform over 9,000 procedures per year.
Mailman said his health problems were due to his drug use. She said the prospect of ending the year with major surgery and starting it with a long recovery would have been daunting.
Instead, her quick recovery gave her time to deal with her addictions and get sober.
“I felt it was important to share that I was an addict, and I’m recovering now. It is important for others to know, who may be struggling with these issues, especially during the pandemic, ”she said. “Our bodies are in trauma response mode and everyone handles it differently. Every day is a struggle, but I am much stronger now. “
She said health workers congratulated her on her willingness to follow the new procedure.
“I replied,” You are doing everything for me to save my life. It’s the least I can do, “” she said.
“They are great people to have and they do so much for our province and our country. They give so much of themselves in one day, and they still have time to talk to you. “
It’s time to recover
She also started a podcast to talk about health issues and the root causes of addiction.
“It’s hard for anyone to truly express their emotions and feelings. It is something in our society – we are encouraged to do it – but it is very difficult to get these words from the inside out, ”she said.
“I go out of things that I wouldn’t normally do. I want to help others. Helping others helps yourself.
The new suites were paid for by taxpayers and the QEII Foundation, which raised $ 1.2 million to equip two of the four treatment rooms with the necessary equipment and technology, as well as for the construction of an area recovery of patients from 11 places.
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