Local woman receives rare life-saving surgery

Published: Oct. 18, 2021 at 7:01 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - 60-year-old Deborah Hensley had surgery in Feb. for a large tumor on her heart. As she recovered she felt like something still wasn’t right. Just months after her surgery, doctors found a large mass around her heart.

“I just didn’t feel like I was getting any better and then I started having the same problems with not being able to breathe again,” said Hensley.

Cardiovascular surgeons at Sparrow decided to perform a rare procedure on Hensley to make the surgery less invasive. Sparrow is one of the few hospitals in mid-Michigan with an AngioVac, a medical tool that uses suction. They used this suction tool to remove the mass from her heart.

“One option is to reopen her chest to directly remove that mass which would be very risky for her. The other option is to pass catheters through both groins and the neck and using instruments and filters and several techniques to tackle that mass. One instrument to break it down and another to suction it and another to put a filter,” said Cardiothoracic Surgery Physician at Sparrow, Hisham Qandeel.

Surgeons say this procedure is rare because it has a lot of moving parts.

“Because of the complexity the difficult team approach and the risk of it if it was not done appropriately,” said Qandeel.

Hensley says this procedure has given her another chance at life and she plans to move closer to family to share it.

“I have a second chance now and just start enjoying life again because basically life stopped for a while for me,” said Hensley.

Sparrow says this isn’t the first time the AngioVac has been used but it is the first time they have used it in this complex of a medical case.

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