After Emergency Surgery, a Life ‘Forever Changed’

By Helen Pates

In August 2005, I found myself in serious need of an emergency room. I did not realize how fortunate I was until I arrived at Rush University Medical Center.

For two years prior, I had been experiencing great fatigue, shortness of breath, low back pain and an overall sense of not feeling like myself. During these two years I visited seven doctors at various hospitals — none of them at Rush. Each of these doctors told me the same thing: “Ms. Pates, there is no apparent medical explanation for your fatigue and overall sense of feeling ill.” I had no idea what was happening, but I knew in my gut that something was seriously wrong.

On that August night, I awoke with severe pain in my upper back and could not raise my body up out of bed. Around 3 a.m., I made my way to Rush’s Emergency Department, the closest emergency department to my home. After many tests and a CT scan, I was informed by a team of five cardiovascular surgeons at Rush that I had an aortic pseudoaneurysm the size of a walnut, and it was leaking, ready to rupture at any moment.

The caregivers at Rush immediately checked me in and proceeded to care for me — the best care I have ever received in my life (and trust me, I’ve had more than my fair share of trauma, surgery and severe injury to my body). I was told that I needed emergency surgery and that a stent graft had to be placed in my aorta, a very pioneering procedure.

The stent was sent overnight, and my cardiovascular surgery team operated less than 24 hours later. The doctors and nurses were unlike any I have ever had the unfortunate — or this time, fortunate — opportunity to meet. They did two things for me that day: They saved my live and forever changed it.

I share my story almost every single day and I always say, “If you need medical care or have a medical emergency, make sure you are being treated at Rush University Medical Center.” Over the last five years, I have become very involved with Rush as a volunteer and member of the Anchor Cross Society, Rush’s recognition society for philanthropic donors. I will continue to be a voice for Rush for as long as I live.

The doctors and nurses at Rush gave me my life back, and I will be forever grateful.

Gifts to Rush support the collaborative and pioneering approach to patient care that has changed the lives of patients like Helen. Please consider making a gift today.

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