CAYMAN ISLANDS (December 21, 2017) – An 80-year-old woman’s life took a turn for the better thanks to intervention by a team of doctors, nurses and physiotherapists at Health City Cayman Islands.
Cayman Islands resident Zoe Bodden was still dealing with the effects of the pulmonary embolism she suffered in August 2016. Struggling with her mobility and relying on an artificial oxygen supply, Bodden felt weak and was not hopeful about her chances for improvement.
Previously an active person who regularly worked out at a local gym and swam in her backyard pool, Bodden was dependent on external oxygen, confined to a wheelchair, and unable to withstand any physical exertion.
In fact, doctors agreed that left unchecked, her condition would certainly kill her while also diminishing her quality of life in the time she had left.
Dr. Binoy Chattuparambil, Chief Cardiac Surgeon at Health City, however, was optimistic that she could be saved. He wholeheartedly believed he could successfully help Bodden by performing a pulmonary thrombo endarterectomy (a procedure done during open heart surgery) to correct her chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension.
“I told her, ‘Looking at your face I can tell you you’ll be okay, I will do the surgery on you.’ After years of experience looking at some patients …there is no scientific basis, but looking at somebody, you know, ‘Okay she’s going to make it,’” he said.
Bodden was worried at first, especially because the procedures are not typically performed on elderly people, but Dr. Binoy, as he is affectionately called by patients and staff, reassured her.
“He looked at me and thought I could make it, so praise God that’s the way it worked out. We had the surgery and everything is fine,” Bodden said.
Dr. Dhruva Kumar Krishan, Senior Consultant, Cardiac Anesthesiology and Intensive Care at Health City, described just how delicate the surgery was: “Zoe had chronic thrombo pulmonary embolism.
She had clots in her legs which slowly moved into her heart and then the clots started blocking and choking the lungs. Dr. Binoy did the surgery to remove it and then he did the pulmonary endarterectomy to scrape the inner layer of the pulmonary vessels so that she doesn’t have recurrent clots.”
Dr. Binoy concurred it was a rare surgery he was undertaking: “It is done in less than 20 hospitals in the entire globe.”
He described the complexity of the procedure: “We have to open both lung arteries, and from each [of the] branches we have to remove the clot. It’s very delicate, that’s why it is not very common or not very popular because [in] the finer branches, the thickness is less than one millimeter. If you make a small nick it’s all finished, so it’s very risky, very technical, very challenging.”
However, the choice was an easy one to make for the acclaimed surgeon: “If you don’t do the surgery they are going to die in the next six months or one year, because this is a clot that has reached and blocked the lung arteries – the lung pressure will [increase] significantly and the right side of the heart will fail.”
He also lamented that the few doctors in the U.S. recognized this condition (chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension) and for those who do, many don’t know there is a surgical treatment that is curative.
“If you look at the statistics in the United States, this is the third most common cause of death after cardiovascular disease and cancer,” Dr. Binoy noted, while also underscoring that the surgery to correct the condition has “only been done in less than 20 hospitals across the world.”
Dr. Dhruva, as he is known, praised their patient for the success of the rare operation: “When we look at her we feel very joyous to have done a surgery on someone that age with such a major open heart surgery. She’s a good patient. She’s a good human being and she has a good sense of humor, and that helped us.”
Both Dr.Binoy and Dr. Dhruva believed that Bodden’s good history of physical fitness prior the diagnosis of pulmonary embolism increased her chances of a successful surgery.
Bodden’s morale was heightened by the treatment she received in both the Intensive Care Unit and the wards at Health City. “The care that you get in ICU is unbelievable – you open your eyes and there’s somebody there, somebody you can call and it’s just wonderful. And even after you go into the wards it’s still wonderful the way they treat you,” she said.
Bodden was appreciative of Dr. Binoy’s commitment to her care, saying: “I have a special love for Dr. Binoy because of the way he has treated me. Not only because he pretty much saved my life, but what he did after the surgery. He would come to visit me at least four times a day, and then shortly after I got out of hospital he went on vacation to India and every day he would text Minerva [my nurse] and ask her how I was doing.”
Bodden was back at home after just nine days in the hospital, with four of those days spent in the ICU. Since the surgery, she has seen great improvement in her quality of life. No longer dependent on a wheelchair to move around, she is walking on her own, driving her car, and looking forward to resuming a more active lifestyle.
Before departing Health City Cayman Islands, Bodden had a special message for the hospital and its staff. “I think we’re so blessed because several of us would be dead probably if it [Health City] wasn’t there. And the facility itself is such a lovely place, so convenient. You seldom have to wait very long to be looked after. Like I said, everything is just so nice … I’m just thankful for it.”