Dubai, UAE, July 15, 2018: The odds were against him. More than 90 percent of people with basilar artery occlusion don't survive if they are not treated correctly, but lucky for sea captain Renato Garcia, the timely and effective care he received by doctors at Rashid Hospital saved his life.
The sea captain was left completely paralyzed after suffering a brain stroke while working on his ship.
“One minute I was fine and the next I felt dizzy. I then blacked out and when I woke up, the paramedics were carrying me to the ambulance. I felt trapped in my body because my brain was functioning but I couldn't move any part of my body including my face.”
Garcia was transported from Dubai Marina to Rashid Hospital on June 16, where the neurology department diagnosed him with basilar artery occlusion, an infrequent form of an acute stroke, which invariably leads to death or long-term disability if not recanalized.
Dr Ayman Al Sibaie, interventional radiologist at Rashid Hospital said his department received an emergency call from the neurology department regarding Garcia's critical case, and found that it requires immediate intervention.
“An angiogram confirmed that Garcia has thrombosis [formation of blood clot that obstructs blood flow] in his basilar artery, which is responsible of carrying oxygenated blood to his brainstem. The brainstem regulates vital functions, including the heart rate, eating, sleeping, and breathing, this means that any interruption of the blood flow through the basilar artery can lead to severe brain damage, organ malfunction, or even death. The more the delay in intervention, the greater the consequences,” explained Dr Al Sibaie.
Al Sibaie said that two main procedures were required to treat Garcia.
“We first went in with a stent retrieval device that sucked the blood clot. The clot capture mechanisms of the device looks like a net. Once the blood migrated into the net, we pulled it out, restoring the blood flow from the occluded blood vessels in the brain,” he explained.
After the blood flow was restored Dr Al Sibaie said that another procedure was required because his team found that Garcia's basilar artery was narrowing and if left untreated another blood clot would block the artery again.
“To treat this issue I introduced a balloon catheter to perform an angioplasty, which is a minimally invasive, endovascular procedure to widen the narrowed arteries. This was done by inserting the balloon catheter into the artery then inflating it in order to dilate the narrowed region,” he said.
Dr Al Sibaie revealed that Garcia, who was on a local anaesthetic started recovering immediately while he was on the surgery table and was no longer paralyzed.
He emphasised that the procedure conducted on the patient is a highly –sophisticated and technically challenging procedure that has been introduced only two years ago. He added that Rashid Hospital is currently the only hospital in the city to perform this technique.
“This procedure is rare and requires state-of-the-art technology and skilled doctors as the death prevalence of patients with this condition is 90 per cent. We conducted a clinical test and took a CT scan, which found that the procedure was a success. Garcia went from being paralyzed and having a dropped face to being able to move his whole body. Timely emergency care, diagnosis and chain of treatment played a big role in the success of this case,” he added.
Commenting on the procedure from his hospital room, Garcia who can now walk, sit and talk as if nothing happened to him said he feels he was given a new chance to live.
“When I was paralysed I felt dead. I now feel that my body is recharged, I would like to thank Rashid Hospital and its doctors for the care I have received,” said Garcia.