When Pennsylvania resident Allen Weller woke up feeling dizzy and disoriented on August 1, 2010, he did not suspect that anything was seriously wrong. A rescue squad transported Weller to Washington County Hospital where he was diagnosed with a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm, an often fatal condition. Doctors immediately organized emergency helicopter transportation to bring Weller to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Thanks to the quick thinking of those doctors and emergency surgery performed by Dr. Rajabrata Sarkar to repair the aneurysm, Weller is alive today to share his story. Read about his experience below.
On August 1, 2010, Pennsylvania resident Allen Weller woke up feeling slightly dizzy and complaining of lower back pain. At first, Weller's wife believed his symptoms might have been caused by kidney stones, a condition with which Weller had been diagnosed in the past. However, when his wife was unable to get him out of bed to drive him to the hospital, she knew something was wrong and immediately called the Hancock Rescue Squad to transport her husband to the Washington County Hospital.
"The only thing I can remember is that I got weak and couldn't really remember anything. I called my wife, and she called in the rescue squad," recalls Weller.
After Weller was admitted in the hospital, doctors performed an ultrasound, which showed he had a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm, commonly referred to as a "Triple A." Immediately, the doctors at Washington County Hospital began arranging emergency Medievac transportation to bring Weller to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
The helicopter arrived almost immediately, but soon after being airlifted, Weller's blood pressure became undetectable to the attending medics. For approximately twenty minutes, the medical staff in the helicopter could not get a reading for Weller's blood pressure. Upon his arrival at the Medical Center, Weller was immediately taken into surgery.
"When I left from Hagerstown, the doctors and nurses told me that he wouldn't make it; that it's usually fatal," recalled Weller's wife, Donna.
When he entered the operating room, Weller did not have a blood pressure. The anesthesiologists began trying to revive him with fluid and other liquids to help compensate for amount of blood he was losing as a result of his ruptured aneurysm. Dr. Rajabrata Sarkar, chief of vascular surgery at the Medical Center, set to work inserting a special surgical balloon through Weller's femoral artery. Once the balloon was properly inserted, Dr. Sarkar began inflating it, which slowed the leak. Slowing the leak caused Weller's blood pressure to return, and Dr. Sarkar then opened his abdomen to clamp the aorta and sew in a plastic graft to seal the leak. Weller awoke from surgery a few days later.
"I remembered the chopper landing on the roof, but that's the last thing I could recall until probably a couple weeks later," says Weller.
Because Weller's blood pressure was undetectable for nearly twenty minutes, a major concern for Dr. Sarkar was whether or not Weller sustained any brain damage. However, when Weller woke up, he was able to move all of his extremities and respond to commands, indicating that his brain was functioning as it should.
"When you have a patient with a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm who comes into the operating room and is essentially dead, return home physically, emotionally and intellectually intact, I think that is quite remarkable," says Dr. Sarkar.
And, indeed, since his surgery, Weller's recovery has been nothing short of remarkable.
"I feel great and I'm getting better all the time. I hope to be back better than I was before," states Weller.
When talking about the care he received during his time at the Medical Center, Weller and his wife had nothing but praise for Dr. Sarkar and his team.
"I've had nothing but good care ever since I got here; everything I wanted to know, they told me. Dr. Sarkar has all my trust in the world, because I know I wouldn't be here without him. I have all the confidence in him," says Weller.
"They had so many teams that worked with him. Everyone from surgeons to neurologists and the resident doctors worked together to help him recover. And, Dr. Sarkar, that man is a miracle maker. He saved my husband's life and I couldn't ask for anything better," says Donna Weller.