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‘It was a real miracle for us’: New technology at Intermountain Healthcare saves man’s life


Intermountain Healthcare recently became the first in Utah to perform a new lifesaving and less invasive heart procedure, benefiting Antonio Gomez, right. (Nilsa Gomez)

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SALT LAKE CITY — Intermountain Healthcare recently became the first in Utah to perform a new lifesaving and less invasive heart procedure.

“It was a real miracle for us, for our family,” said Nilsa Gomez, whose husband received this new procedure.

Antonio Gomez, 64, has lived a healthy and full life, filled with family.

But one day, he randomly felt unbearable pain.

“Everything just kind of hit full force, I started to have some debilitating pain from the chest … I was in excruciating pain, I wasn’t sure what was going on,” he said.

He had an aortic aneurysm and was intensive care for 22 days, doctors told his wife that he had bleeding in his heart she said she was concerned he would have to have open heart surgery.

“We prayed a lot for him and his recovery, we didn’t know what was going to happen,” Nilsa Gomez said.

She said he returned home from the hospital for a few weeks, previously he was a very independent person, and suddenly he was unable to do anything for himself.

“He was very sick, it wasn’t normal, he wasn’t my husband at all,” she said.

Intermountain healthcare cardiologists John Doty and Evan Brownie noticed Antonio Gomez’s aorta doubled in size in the month since his aneurysm.

Intermountain Healthcare recently became the first in Utah to perform a new lifesaving and less invasive heart procedure.
Intermountain Healthcare recently became the first in Utah to perform a new lifesaving and less invasive heart procedure. (Photo: Ayanna Likens, KSL-TV)

“Unfortunately, his wasn’t healing. It continued to grow and enlarge and become dangerous for rupture,” said Doty.

That’s when the doctors approached the family about a new procedure that could help Antonio Gomez without doing open heart surgery, called thoracic branch endoprosthesis.

They were able to repair Antonio Gomez’s aortic aneurysm by feeding a stent graft through his blood vessels.

“This device allows us to treat diseases like Antonio’s with … just a puncture hole into the arteries,” said Brownie.

The new procedure allows surgeons to maintain blood flow to the brain throughout the operation and can reduce recovery time from a few weeks to just a couple of days.

Antonio Gomez was released from the hospital the day after his surgery in October and is now back to work and back to celebrating life with his family.

“I’m so grateful for everybody that took care of me on those days,” he said.

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Ayanna Likens

Ayanna Likens is an Emmy award-winning special projects reporter for KSL-TV.

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