Article from Morgan Hill Times

Morgan Hill resident Judy Walsh has seen it all. As a former paramedic and many years as an emergency room nurse at Regional Medical Center of San Jose, she knew she was in trouble one afternoon when she suddenly couldn’t breathe.

"I was feeling fine until I bent over to pick up my dog and it felt like someone just pulled a rope around my neck," Walsh said. "I was afraid I was going to die."

Two months earlier Walsh, 60, underwent knee replacement surgery, which put her at higher risk for Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), blood clots that originate in leg veins and can travel to the lungs or heart.

Judy called 911 and was taken to the hospital. After a CT scan revealed what’s called a saddle blood clot, massive enough to straddle both her left and right pulmonary arteries, she was transferred to Regional Medical Center.

Doctors immediately administered the clot-dissolving drug tPA, but a large portion of the clot wouldn’t budge.

Dr. Arash Padidar, an Interventional radiologist, was confident a new minimally invasive procedure using a system called AngioVac could spare Judy a risky open chest surgery and safely remove the clot from her lung. Regional is the first and only San Jose hospital performing the procedure, and the only Bay Area hospital with an active AngioVac program.

Through a small incision in a vein in Judy’s groin, Padidar inserted the AngioVac device, with an expandable funnel-shaped tip that acts as a vacuum to suction out the clot. The AngioVac quickly sucked the deadly clot away from Judy’s lungs. The system then restored the cleansed blood, eliminating the need for a blood transfusion. The process was repeated several times until Judy’s blood was free of clots or other debris.

"For Judy, tPA was used first but failed due to the clot’s large size and density," Padidar said. "And in cases like Judy’s, there’s no time to wait to see if the drug is going to dissolve the clot. Every moment that passed increased the risk that the clot would migrate and cut off her air flow."

Walsh is back at work caring for others in Regional’s ER.

"I feel lucky to be alive," she said. "And everyday I’m thankful for Dr. Padidar, his team and the AngioVac system that saved my life."

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