- Brett Turner Contributing Writer
Kent Swayne faced one of the most fatal medical emergencies possible two months ago, one with a 90 percent mortality rate.
The 68-year-old Clark County man felt a pulsation in his stomach, suffering from a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm, also known as a AAA.
The only things keeping Swayne from being a statistic were the skills of the EMTs, emergency doctors and surgeons at Springfield Regional Medical Center and chance, he said. All were on his side.
Swayne was released from the hospital after just four days and claims he’s pretty much back to normal and he and his family will have one of their most joyous holiday seasons ever.
“I truly appreciated how many people were involved,” said Swayne, who’s retired from Pentaflex. “It must be a rare privilege to be able to save someone’s life.”
The morning before the Oct. 7 incident, Swayne was on his property removing fence posts with a sledgehammer. A longtime smoker, he had high blood pressure and survived a traumatic car accident in 2003. He didn’t see a doctor regularly but still lived in relatively good health.
His luck ran out as Swayne had a problem in his left side and felt weaker. His wife wanted to drive him to the hospital but he insisted on calling 9-1-1.
That could have been the first difference between life and death with Swayne’s blood pressure dropping to 40/10. It was dispatched as a heart attack, but with the stomach obviously pulsating and time of the essence, Mad River Twp./Enon Fire Department medics Ryan Shroyer, Ben Beair, Mike Bates and Elmer Beard got to work keeping Swayne stabilized and warm.
Awaiting at Springfield Regional Medical Center were the emergency team of Dr. Sara Singhal and nurses Larry Oliver and Amber McDevitt. Despite the survival odds, they got to their jobs. Singhal said anything she needed was ready.
“I’ve seen a lot of people have this but few make it to the operating room,” Singhal said. “Many are flown out to larger hospitals.”
The aorta is the main artery and pipeline in the body, she said, and an aneurysm is as if a balloon happens in the pipe, causing a tear, and then it pops.
It’s what killed actor John Ritter in 2003.
“It all goes to what you know about the problem and we work together. We needed to fill him with fluids,” said Oliver, who has seen 10 AAAs in his four years at Springfield Regional.
He described the stomach pulsation resembling the chest-bursting scene in the sci-fi film “Alien.” They got three to four litres of blood into Swayne as McDevitt got the ultrasound ready.
From there, he was prepped for emergency surgery with cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Surender Neravetla, who was assisted by his daughter, Dr. Soumya Neravetla. They fitted Swayne for a stent through the femoral artery.
READ MORE: I Love Springfield: Dr. Surender Neravetla
Much credit should go to the emergency department team in using technology to perform an aggressive resuscitation, Dr. Soumya Neravetla said, and quick diagnosis.
Although it only took about four hours total, McDevitt and Oliver said it felt like days. Oliver was amazed at the Neravetlas’ skills.
“It makes you feel good and it’s why we do our jobs,” he said. “It’s why you put the blood, sweat and tears in even in a bad situation.”
One of the keys was having a calm operating room, McDevitt said, and everyone knowing their jobs.
Swayne has scant memories of the time. Given his new lease on life, he recommends anybody older than 50 go see a doctor regularly, cut out smoking and monitor their blood pressure closely.
“I have so much appreciation to people I may never see again,” Swayne said of the medical staff who saved his life.