Inova doctor’s inspiring medical story convinces patient to undergo open aortic surgery
Raymond Fernandez had already been through extensive treatment for his abdominal aortic aneurysm. To have it repaired, he had undergone minimally invasive endovascular procedures with a specialist twice in the past 10 years.
So he was feeling deeply depressed and confused when he had to be hospitalized last summer for the same life-threatening medical issue — further enlargement of the aneurysm with pending rupture. He was in excruciating pain, and while he had been operated on before for the aneurysm, to repair it this time would require open aortic surgery, which he had never experienced.
“I’m 79 years old and performed physical labor most of my life,” Raymond remarks. “The facts [about survival odds] combined with years of smoking did not provide me with the encouragement I needed to take on open aortic surgery.”
Resigned to an aneurysm
Raymond felt that even if the aneurysm proved fatal — which was very likely — his time would be better spent with his family rather than going through a long and painful healing and rehabilitation process. However, that mind-set changed when he talked with Homayoun A. Hashemi, MD, Chief of Vascular Surgery at Inova Fair Oaks Hospital.
“I was under a lot of stress when I met Dr. Hashemi,” Raymond states. “What a blessing this meeting was for my family and me. He introduced himself and explained the procedure on the computer, [showing me] the size of the aneurysm and the complexities of the operation.”
While Raymond appreciated the Dr. Hashemi’s ability to explain the surgery and how it would affect him, it was the doctor’s personal story that made him feel he was in the right hands.
“What gave me and my family faith and trust in Dr. Hashemi was after he showed us a picture of his father on his cell phone,” Raymond says. “Dr. Hashemi had performed a similar operation on his 88-years-young father eight years ago, and his father [who is also a physician] is now in his 90s and still active in the medical field.”
Moving ahead with surgery
Hearing this story gave Raymond the encouragement to go ahead with the open aneurysm surgery, which was a success. Raymond explains that Dr. Hashemi’s care didn’t end at the operating room: Once the patient was in stable condition, Dr. Hashemi walked him and his family through the recovery process and continued checking in on him each day — even feeding Raymond his first mouthful of solid food days after the operation. After being discharged, Raymond entered rehabilitation where he received calls from Dr. Hashemi and worked with physical therapists to get back to his regular life.
“Dr. Hashemi is a modern-day doctor with the bedside manner of a small-town doctor, and my family and I will always be grateful for his skill and the care he showed us,” Raymond says.
In the Right Hands at Inova