Dana's Aneurysm Story
Forty years after watching her mother die from a ruptured brain aneurysm, a new technology helped her escape the same fate. In 2014, Dana Bean became just the second person in the world to have a hard-to-reach aneurysm in her brain removed using new technology as part of a clinical trial. Her brain aneurysm was in the exact same location as the one that killed her mother more than four decades ago.
Dana felt grateful and a little anxious as she awaited her follow-up appointment with the man who she feels saved her life: Ricardo Hanel, MD, PhD, neurovascular surgeon with Lyerly Neurosurgery and director of the Baptist Neurological Institute at Baptist Health.
As so often happens, Dana’s thoughts turned to her mother, who collapsed on the playground from a ruptured brain aneurysm, as Dana and her brothers played nearby. Dana was just 6 years old. An ambulance came and she never saw her mother again.
Eight years ago, Dana learned she had a brain aneurysm of her own. For days, she kept that information from her father because she didn’t want to upset him.
Because of the location of the aneurysm and the difficulty in removing it, Dana had to carry on with her life with a “ticking time bomb” in her head. She worried constantly that the aneurysm would one day burst, and whether she would die instantly or become a burden to her family. She would awake at night fearing the worst.
“I didn’t want to die,” Dana recalled, as she touched her mother’s pearls around her neck and took a deep breath. “I wanted to be here for graduations, weddings and new babies and the future,” said Dana, who is often surrounded by her niece and nephews, stepchildren and grandchildren.
The answer to her prayers came two years ago, as part of a new clinical trial for small aneurysms led by Dr. Hanel. A cerebral aneurysm (also known as an intracranial aneurysm) is a weak or thin spot on a blood vessel in the brain that balloons out and fills with blood.
Dr. Hanel inserted a braided cylindrical mesh called a flow diverter into a vein in Dana’s groin. He threaded it up to her brain to slow the flow of blood into the aneurysm and allow the diseased vessel to heal. Within several months, the aneurysm was gone.
“This study shows the benefit of this breakthrough technology for smaller aneurysms and that patients can do well with these treatments,” Dr. Hanel said.
Recently turned 54, Dana waited in Dr. Hanel’s office and wondered if she’ll need more tests.
As soon as Dr. Hanel walked in the room, she leaped from her chair to give him a big hug. He told her no more scans are needed until next year and that her own tissue has formed over the pipeline flow diverter. Her aneurysm remains gone. The hugs continued “My friend asked me the other day, ’What do you say to the man who saved your life?” Dana told Dr. Hanel, as tears filled her eyes. “There are no words.“
If you have a family history of brain aneurysms, learn more about brain aneurysms and heredity including the facts, risk factors, symptoms and tests available at Baptist Stroke & Cerebrovascular Center or call Lyerly Neurosurgery at 904.861.0316 for an appointment today.