Robert Nash loves landscaping and takes pride in his spacious yard. He didn't want to let a potentially life-threatening condition prune his passion.
Nash was diagnosed with an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), which emerges when part of the aorta that runs through the abdomen weakens and bulges out. The aorta is the largest artery in the body, and an AAA can eventually rupture and bleed into the belly.
At the time, Nash's cardiologist with Baptist Heart Specialists, Nehu Patel, MD, told him no medical intervention was required because the aneurysm was small, so the active 80-year-old continued mowing his own lawn, tending to his flowers and looking after the landscaping.
Dr. Patel closely monitored his condition. A couple of years later, he determined it was time to take action and referred Nash to Erin Moore, MD, a vascular surgeon at Baptist Health.
Restoring blood flow
Nash was happy to learn he would not have to undergo a surgery requiring a large abdominal incision and lengthy recovery. Rather, he would be able to quickly resume his normal activities after the implantation of a new Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved device, the Gore EXCLUDER® Conformable AAA Endoprosthesis.
Dr. Moore is among the first surgeons in the United States to offer this device to patients affected by AAA. Nash was the first patient at Baptist Health, and one of the first in the country, to receive the device.
“AAAs can cause the largest blood vessel in a patient’s body, the aorta, to swell to several times its normal size. If the aneurysm grows too large, it can rupture, resulting in significant injury or even death,” Dr. Moore explained. “This device eliminates the risk of rupture through a low-risk, minimally invasive intervention and will significantly improve the peace of mind for patients after the procedure.”
The device consists of implantable fabric tubes with a metal frame and is implanted through a small incision in the groin. It permanently seals off aneurysms in the abdominal section of the aorta and keeps the pathway open so blood can freely flow.
When implanting the device, the surgeon uses real-time X-ray imaging to help ensure proper placement. A tube-like delivery catheter is guided to the site of the aneurysm and the device is positioned to provide a new path for blood flow. Blood loss is significantly less than traditional open surgery, which means faster recovery and shorter hospital stays for patients.
“I went into Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville on a Wednesday for the procedure,” Nash remembered. “I felt much better by the time I went home the next day, and the following day, I felt 100% back to normal.”
Nash followed Dr. Moore’s advice and rested for the first week after the procedure, and then he slowly began to ease into his regular routine.
When he’s not working in the yard, Nash spends time with his 28-year-old grandson, Nicholas, who has high-functioning autism. The widower, who lost his wife seven years ago, adopted Nicholas when he was 5.
Neither of them likes to cook, so they go on dining adventures to try new foods and restaurants.
“We keep each other company and try to keep each other in line,” Nash said. “We have a lot of fun together.”
Wherever Nash goes, his furry little friend, Lucky, follows. He and the fuzzy white rescue dog have become constant companions, with Lucky always at Nash’s feet.
“I talk to my little dog a lot. He’s my good buddy,” said Nash.
By the end of the second week following the procedure, Nash had completely resumed his normal activities.
“I was back out working in the yard, going out to eat with my grandson, and playing with my dog,” Nash said. “The procedure and the recovery went so well. It couldn’t have been any better.”
Baptist Health provides the region’s most comprehensive cardiovascular care. The team of specialists is committed to advanced, leading-edge prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation for heart and vascular conditions at every stage of life. To request an appointment, call 904.720.0799.