Patient Care Technician and Vascular Surgery Patient
St. Louis, Michigan
“My biggest concern was finding a very competent vascular surgeon. I was comfortable choosing Dr. Haqqani.”
Vascular Surgery Restored His Circulation and His Mobility
Phil Childs was snowblowing the driveway at his house in St. Louis when he felt a sudden, severe pain in his back.
“It felt like someone had hit me with a board,” said Phil, who is a certified patient care technician at MidMichigan Medical Center–Midland.
The snowblowing episode was dramatic, but the problem that caused it had developed for years. Phil first started noticing that, with strenuous activity such as hunting, he needed to rest and recover more often. Then his feet became cold, grey and unhealthy-looking, symptoms that pointed to peripheral vascular disease. Now, he was walking with increasing difficulty.
The problem was plaque buildup in his aorta, the main vessel carrying blood from his heart to the rest of his body. A piece of the sticky plaque broke off and lodged in the aorta, a problem called claudication. It was below the arteries that supplied his kidneys, but above the ones that provided blood to his legs.
“I knew there was an issue, but I didn’t realize it was so serious,” Phil said. “I learned later it was caused by smoking, which increased my cholesterol. Anyone who wants to avoid this problem needs to quit smoking early, or better yet, never start.”
Phil’s next problem was finding out what could be done about the blockage in his aorta.
Once a magnetic resonance angiogram and other tests confirmed the diagnosis, his interventional cardiologist, Rodney Diehl, D.O., told Phil there was a way to route blood around the blocked section of his aorta through a graft. The massive, open, reconstructive procedure would require a vascular surgeon.
“Once I learned there was an actual treatment, I felt a lot of relief,” Phil said. The surgery also offered a good long-term success rate. “Since I no longer smoke, I could expect to go 15 or 20 years and still have my aorta 80 to 90 percent open,” he said. “But my biggest concern was finding a very competent surgeon that I could trust to do the job.”
When Phil’s search began, MidMichigan Physicians Group did not have a vascular surgeon, but then Dr. Diehl learned the group was about to add someone with the training and experience Childs sought.
Vascular Surgeon Omar Haqqani, M.D., had completed a fellowship in vascular surgery at Tufts University in Boston after his general surgery residency at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. For Phil, his move to MidMichigan could not have come at a better time.
“At my first appointment, Dr. Haqqani explained everything: what was going on, why open surgery was the gold standard for my problem, what he would do and what I could expect. We talked for an hour,” Phil said. “I felt that he was knowledgeable and that he cared for his patients. I was comfortable choosing him.”
In July, Dr. Haqqani performed Phil’s surgery at MidMichigan Medical Center–Midland. The surgery attached a cylindrical graft made of high-tech fabric above and below the blockage in Phil’s aorta, enabling blood to flow around the problem area and reach his legs and feet.
Phil was in the Medical Center for a week and spent five more weeks recovering at home, all with help from his wife, Kathy. He said recovery went well, but the first few days were “not fun.”
“At first, every time I moved, it just hurt. It was a while before I could even sit up,” he said. “Dr. Haqqani went above and beyond to be there for me. He has an awesome bedside manner. The nurses also made sure I understood what was going on and was as comfortable as possible. They were all very professional. I would not hesitate to recommend every one of them.”
Before long, Phil noticed significant changes. “It was like night and day. One of the first things I noticed was that I could walk a lot farther without fatigue,” he said. “Now I have no problem doing almost nonstop walking at work. I can feel a pedal pulse on the top of my foot again, and my feet are warm and have good color. I look forward to being even more active this spring.”
Dr. Haqqani serves as chief of vascular surgery at MidMichigan Health and is currently accepting new patients at his offices located at 160 E. Warwick Drive in Alma and 4011 Orchard Drive, Suite 4006, in Midland. Appointments are available with a physician referral by calling his office toll-free at (855) 289-5353. Those who would like more information about Dr. Haqqani may visit www.midmichigan.org/doctors.