Farmer thought he had kidney stones but it was a ‘ticking time bomb’

--first time, lifesaving surgery performed at Georgetown Public Hospital


By Vishani Ragobeer

For much of his life, since he was a 16-year-old boy, Mahaicony, East Coast Demerara farmer Christopher James suffered from excruciating pain because he had kidney stones.

This pain continued over the years but it would ‘come and go’. Last month, however, he realised that the pain in his stomach was different.

“From November 6, I started to find this pain was different, it doesn’t go away. It started right where the kidney stones started but it never went away,” James told the press from his bed at the Georgetown Public Hospital.

What’s worse, was that when he went to work on his farm in the mornings, he would only be able to work for a few hours before he was incapable of doing anything else. Then, he would have to lie down and hope the pain subsides.

“The pain is dread, it is not something anybody would want,” James emphasised.

Unable to bear that pain, the farmer visited two hospitals before he was able to ascertain that his aorta – the largest blood vessel in the body – was swollen and could burst at any time. In medical terms, he had an aortic aneurysm.

Christopher James, the 36-year-old Mahaicony farmer who had been suffering excruciating pain, was recovering on Thursday in the Transplant and Vascular ward of the Georgetown Public Hospital (Photo: Vishani Ragobeer/ December 2, 2021)

Since a ruptured aneurysm can result in serious health problems, James said the health workers told him that he was essentially living with a “ticking time bomb”. And so, he went to the Georgetown Public Hospital for treatment.

On his way to an operating theatre for surgery, the aneurysm ruptured. And James recalled panicking so much that his body started to shut down on him. And that’s when the medical team had to do everything they possibly could to save him.

“About 65 per cent of patients with a ruptured aortic aneurysm would die even before reaching the hospital (and) that data is out of first-world countries… and even if the patient arrives at the hospital alive, the mortality rate increases one per cent every minute,” Dr. Carlos Martin, a general and vascular surgeon, said during a press conference on Thursday.

Dr. Martin was part of the team that operated on James. What they had to do was remove the part of the aorta that was damaged and replace it with a non-natural graft.

General and Vascular Surgeon, Dr. Carlos Martin (left) and Head of the Transplant and Vascular Department Dr. Kishore Persaud (Photo: News Room/ December 2, 2021)

James had slim chances of survival. Yet, the anesthesiology team kept him alive long enough for the actual surgery to take place. Three hours later, the surgery team successfully completed the procedure, and James showed signs of better health.

Notably, the surgery performed on James was the first time an emergency surgery for a ruptured Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) was ever done at the Georgetown Public Hospital.

And, several days after his surgery, James is now recovering in the ward of the Transplant and Vascular unit. Once he continues to show signs of good health during this postoperative period, Dr. Kishore Persaud, the Head of the Transplant and Vascular Department, says this surgery will certainly go down in the hospital’s history books.

For James, he has already given the medical team a thumbs up and calls them his superheroes.

“I feel 100 per cent better… and I am getting better every day,” James said.

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