They did some tests on him, and determined that the best cource of action was to go home and see if the blood vessels around the liver would take up the slack from the blocked ones. He is 53 years old. He has no liver desease. While he is not in perfect shape, he has exercized and watches what he eats. He stopped smoking more than 20 years ago. The doctors could find no cause for the clotting. They called it idiopathic. ( I think that is a great name)
Dad was refered from his doctor in Maine to New England Medical Center. He traveled several times into the city for tests and more information. Unfortunatly his body would no longer wait.
One night that August, he woke up all sweaty and disorentated. After trying to cool off and applying some talc, he finally went back to sleep. A few hours later, he woke up again. This time he felt the need to throw up. My mother got him the trash can. When they looked inside, they saw blood. Almost two pints. Living less than 5 miles from the Southern Maine Medical Center, they got in the truck and drove over. They decided at a later date that this bordered on the stupid. The felt they should have called an ambulance. Fortunately for my Mom who drove, the ride went smoothly.
When the doctors looked at my Dad, they had nothing but bad news. The vericose veins, that formed in his esophagas and stomich trying to take up the blood flow, had burst. There were more ruptures than they could count. Dad was bleeding to death. They tried to tie off the bleeding vessels, but they were rupturing faster then they could tie them off. They finally had to insert a balloon, to put pressure on the vessels. This went up his nose, and was the only pain Dad felt the entire time.
Finally the bleeding stopped. He was still oozing, but they could control the loss by giving him transfusions. The doctors were getting worried. At this point they had given him almost 30 units of blood. They said, at 40 they needed to worry about blood poisoning. Once he had gone awhile with out a major bleed, they felt it was necessary to send him to Boston, to NEMC. There once again, he sat in intensive care while the doctors confered on what to do.
My Mom and my Sister, both work in the school system and had the summer off, stayed with him, while I traveled back and forth. Mom tried to find a decent place to stay, with resonable rates that was close to the hospital. The hospital is in the Theatre District of Boston. They finally decided on the hospitality program offered through the hospital. This program places family members of patients with local families who have rooms where they can stay for free. It was a life saver.
After the first couple of days, the doctors had no futher ideas on what to do. Dad was still oozing. They were trying to keep him from having another major bleed. The only surgical option they had was to strip the vericose viens. This had a 5% chance of him even surviving the operation. There was nothing to prevent the vericies from returning. They tried to concider a transplant or even a shunt of the effected vessels, but there was just so little remaining open, that it was impossible. Weeks passed.
Finally dad was feeling better. They took him out of intensive care. He went days with out bleeding. He was prepared to go home on Sunday if all went well. Needless to say, things did not go well. He ended up feeling disorentated agian, and they realized he was bleeding again. Back up to intensive care he went. All of the nurses were sad to see him again. The were so happy at the thought of him getting well. They don't often have patients for so long. Dad once again waited in intensive care.
When his bleeding slowed again, the doctors once again started talking about what they concidered to be their only surgical option, (the one with only 5% sucess). Then by an act of God, Dr Ralph Fairchild walked in to intensive care. Nemc is a teaching hospital. His rotation came when Dad was at the end of his rope.
Dr. Fairchild was one of the few doctors who knew about a little known liver bypass, called spleenopnumoplexi. He was also one of the fewer doctors who had actually done one. What it consists of is cutting through the diaphram, slicing a piece off of the spleen and a piece of the lung, and after drilling small holes to promote blood flow, thus vessel growth, sewed the two together. This would give the blood a new way to flow back to the heart, thus releasing the great pressure that was bursting the vessels in his stomach.
After two very long attempts, five hours each, one on Monday the othe on Wednesday, to block of the main vessel that was feeding blood to the spleen, the second being successful, Dr. Fairchild, rearranged the insides of my father. After several days in recovery, dad came home.
News Channel 7 in Boston and News Channel 6 in Portland Maine both did stories on him. (if you saw them, my sister was in them, I was not.) Mom wants to have a blood drive to help replace the blood he used. Unfortunatly, all of the time she spent sitting next to my dad, caused her already bad back to get so bad, that she had to have surgery herself. She is recovering and they both should be back to "normal" by Christmas. In the news stories, it was pointed out that not enough people know about this surgery. If Dr. Fairchild had not walked into our lives when he did, we would have never known about it. I realize that this is not the perfect venue to get this information out to the people who need it, but if some how it gets to one person who needs it, well then my time would not have been wasted and the pain and suffering would not have been in vain.
If you want more information on splenopneumopexy, see the article I copied here. It is massive techo-speek. I am not the best speller or typer so there maybe some typos, but you can get the basics. Clinical Observation