Out on a limb

I remained in contact with Professor Bell via email for a few months after Alan left hospital as I had questions that I felt needed to be answered. He was very help­ful and tried his best to answer them. He told me that Alan’s aneurysm, given its size, would be likely to rupture within a year or two. He also said that if Alan’s blood pressure remained low then there was a slight chance that the aneurysm may shrink but the only way to confirm that was for Alan to have another scan.

As you can imagine, both Alan and I were very frightened about what lay ahead. We have since been told by our general prac­titioner that when the hospital had written and informed us of this ‘small bulge’ it was in fact 6.1cm (aneurysms are normally considered for surgery at 5cm) and neither of us can understand why he wasn’t seen im­mediately, let alone why he had to wait a further three months to be seen, by which time it had grown to 7.5cm.

Alan felt his death was imminent. I suggested that he have another scan as that would be the only way of finding out for sure. He was very depressed and frightened and was very unsure about having another scan as he was living in hope that the aneurysm may shrink.

When Professor Bell told me that he was retiring I took to searching the internet for any information and started writing to vascular surgeons in America who, having read of our situation, insisted we find some­one and get a second opinion as there are techniques which could be considered. One professor in the USA said that the whole aorta could be replaced or another technique could be employed where the aorta is enclosed by an external stent or graft (or whatever the term is). The general opinion of all the people I had written to was that something could be done to pos­sibly save my husband.