“Take her to Hoag”: Aortic Dissection Patient Recounts Lifesaving Care  

Emergency department staff at Hoag knew what Jean was suffering from even before the diagnostic tests came back to confirm it. It was an aortic dissection. A potentially deadly condition in which a tear happens in the inner layer of the body’s main artery. It was Easter Sunday 2022. 

Sometime before that fateful day, Jean had been feeling unwell. She was having a hard time breathing and was sweating heavily. She had even gone to a different emergency room at a different local hospital, where staff assured her that she was fine. “They completely missed the aorta problem,” said Jean.  

When Easter Sunday came around, Jean became dizzy and then collapsed. Her husband called 911 and the responding firefighters insisted: take her to Hoag. Hoag’s emergency department staff recognized her symptoms and knew to check for an aortic dissection. “Fortunately, the emergency department recognized that this was an issue,” said Dr. Anthony Caffarelli, Newkirk Family Endowed Chair in Aortic Care, and a specialized team moved quickly to operate. “When we showed up to the emergency department with the team already assembled, Jean was in a lot of trouble.” They performed the surgery just in the nick of time. 

Once out of surgery, Jean kept hearing how lucky she was. She never knew what an aortic dissection was before. After learning how serious they are, she realized in fact how fortunate she was to have arrived at Hoag. “I had a very, very small window to get to Hoag, get assessed and get into the operating room for this amazing team to operate on me,” said Jean. With the help of philanthropic support, Hoag has a dedicated multidisciplinary team at the Elaine & Robert Matranga Aortic Center, that offers long-term management, active surveillance and 24/7 acute aortic emergency care.  

These days, Jean is back on the tennis court and back to her active lifestyle, thankful to those who rallied around her during an emergency where time was of the essence.  

“I’m just boundlessly grateful.”  

This story and more will be featured in our upcoming Jeffrey M. Carlton Heart & Vascular Institute impact report. Click here to join our email list to receive this report


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