FORT LIBERTY, N.C.--As JB King sat at home in his recliner, talking to his son, he knew something was wrong. “I’ve never felt like this,” said King. He told his wife who called 911, he was then taken to the Womack Army Medical Center (WAMC) Emergency Department where a CT scan was performed. The results were not comforting, he had a saddle pulmonary embolism. Following the discussion of treatment, King was transported to Interventional Radiology (IR) where a thrombectomy was performed.
A thrombectomy is a procedure, that removes blood clots to restore blood flow. It has become a life-saving intervention for many patients like King who had clots removed from his lungs.
Interventional Radiologist, Col. Kirk Russell, and his team performed this life-saving procedure on King using minimal invasive techniques. Russell looks forward to performing these lifesaving procedures, saving one life at a time. He is determined to help as many people as he can with these techniques, having lost a close family member at an early age, due to a treatable condition. This life-saving procedure is making a significant impact in patients like King.
King who was kept conscious during the procedure, was comforted by nurse Amy Harkins, who he calls Angel Amy.
“Amy kept talking to me, kind of keeping me calm,” said King. “The team was just phenomenal at their professionalism, and their thoroughness. Before the procedure the doctor went around the room to ask everybody if they were ready, and they said yes. He cranked up some music and I’m thinking this is cool and they all started singing. It was such a relaxing atmosphere.”
Russell said as a team they are intentional about what they do and that includes ensuring a favorable atmosphere for the team and the patient.
“We collaborate well and that gives us confidence,” said Russell. “We don't treat patients differently, whether it's routine or high acuity. It's all the same. We have a single standard of care, and we always believe that there's no simple procedure. The good thing about conscious sedation, my patients think I can sing.”
Following the procedure, King said he was taken back to his room where his son commented that he looked much better, having had a pale color. King’s wife, Deborah, said she walked in expecting to see a groggy husband, but instead she saw a smiling husband sitting up in bed.
Russell explained that someone with this condition is starving for oxygen because of the limited blood flow, but following the procedure, individuals can see results within 24 to 48 hours.
“His color was back, his breathing was normal,” said Deborah. “The care he has gotten, the one-on-one attention, has been phenomenal, my overall experience on a scale of 1 to 10 let’s give it a thousand.”
King said, “There's just not enough words in my vocabulary to describe the IR team. Their attitudes, their care for patients, every breath I take, I think of them, because they enabled me. through Christ’s guidance, to live and breathe, it means the world to me. If I had gone anywhere else, I would have been a number, here I am a name.”
King’s gratitude towards the IR team and his acknowledgment of a higher power working through them reflects the profound impact that medical professionals can have on the lives of their patients. For years patients have attributed their recoveries and survival to the skills, expertise and compassionate care delivered by healthcare teams.
“One of the IR technologists showed me the picture, I was flabbergasted as to how many they had taken out,” said King. “I honestly believe God goes ahead of you and puts the right people in your path, and that night, that team was God’s team, working on one of God’s children.”
Kings’ story serves as a testament to the critical role that healthcare professionals play in people’s lives and the impact; they can have on patient outcomes.