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Ted E.’s Story

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PULMONARY EMBOLISM PROCEDURE

Ted E.

Ted E. is an avid Penn State fan. A loyal alumnus and resident of State College, Pennsylvania, he loves going to Penn State events. But attending a basketball game almost ended his life.

“On the way into the arena, I took a shortcut across a section with icy patches,” he says. “I got about halfway across and slipped. I went down hard, hit the back of my head and was knocked out.”

Ted was taken inside the arena where a first-aid crew said he needed to go to the emergency room. He refused. “I had to watch the game,” he says stubbornly. “I lasted about 10 minutes, and they were winning so I decided I could go home.”

Once they were home, Ted’s wife realized her husband was losing consciousness. She called an ambulance and he was taken to the local hospital.

A Growing Medical Crisis

In the emergency room, doctors realized Ted was in immediate danger from his head injury. He was flown by helicopter to a larger hospital in Altoona, Pennsylvania. There, doctors found multiple skull fractures and bleeding in Ted’s brain. After a week in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), he was stabilized and discharged to a rehabilitation center to complete his recovery near home.

“I was progressing fine there, but I was off the blood thinner I had been taking for years,” he says. “That can be a problem because you can develop blood clots.”

One night while in rehab, Ted suddenly had trouble breathing. He was taken to his local hospital where massive pulmonary embolisms (PEs) — blood clots in the artery of the lungs — were found blocking blood flow to his lungs.

His doctors told Ted’s daughter they had never seen embolisms that bad, and they weren’t sure how he was still alive. A helicopter was called, and he was flown to a hospital in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

The Decision to Come to Temple

“The clots, combined with the brain injury, began causing heart and breathing problems,” says Ted’s daughter, Ellyn.

Temple pulmonary embolism patient, Ted, with his doctor, Parth Rali

We were looking at a 100% chance of mortality if the clot wasn't removed.

- Dr. Rali, pulmonologist

The doctor there made the decision to call Temple and talk to pulmonologist Dr. Parth Rali, an expert in pulmonary embolisms who implemented the Pulmonary Embolism Response Team (PERT) at Temple University Hospital. "They thought my dad would have the best chance at survival by going to Temple," Ellyn says.

By this time, in 2019, Ted was in heart failure and respiratory failure.

“We were looking at a 100% chance of mortality if the clot wasn’t removed,” says Dr. Rali. “The problem was we could not use clot-busting drugs because they may have made the bleeding in his brain worse. He also wasn’t strong enough for open surgery.”

An Innovative Solution

Ted’s Temple doctors had a solution for him: a device called a ClotTriever*. This device works by suctioning clots out of the pulmonary arteries through a large catheter. It works well in removing large clots like Ted had. He was the first Temple patient to receive this innovative procedure.

“This procedure is meant for patients like Ted,” says Joseph Panaro, MD, the Temple interventional radiologist who performed the treatment. “It was still a very high-risk procedure because of his condition. Our goal was to take out at least part of the clot to ease his breathing and help his heart recover. In reality, we cleared almost 90% of the clot.”

The effect was almost immediate. Within hours, Ted was awake and breathing easier. The procedure was a success.

Enjoying Sporting Events Again

Ted spent another few weeks at Temple recovering and doing rehab. He celebrated his 74th birthday at the hospital, an occasion marked by a party thrown by Temple staff members — cake and singing included.

I’m grateful to Temple for saving my life. I’m doing great now thanks to my team there.

- Ted

Today, Ted is back at home, enjoying Penn State sporting events again and the company of his granddaughter. As a joke, his family bought him a helmet to wear and warned him “not to break your head again.”

Ted with his family at a Penn State football game.

“I’m grateful to Temple for saving my life,” says Ted simply. “I’m doing great now thanks to my team there.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by his daughter: “This was a very traumatic experience for our entire family, but the Temple staff went above and beyond for us,” she says. “We credit Drs. Rali and Panaro with saving my dad’s life.”

 

*The ClotTriever is made by Thrombolex, Inc., a medical device company developing interventional catheter-based therapies for the rapid and effective treatment of acute venous thromboembolic disorders. Dr. Bashir is co-founder and has equity interest in Thrombolex, Inc. Temple University also holds a financial interest in Thrombolex, Inc., pursuant to the license granted to Thrombolex for the University’s interest in the patent filed for the experimental catheter device developed by Dr. Bashir and Nicholas Green.