A 50-year-old Russian tourist who suffered from a long rupture in his aorta has been saved in a complex procedure at Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba.

The aorta is the largest artery and distributes oxygenated blood from the heart to all parts of the body.

The man was flown from the central hospital in Moscow with the urgent problem and sent to the Negev hospital.

Imaging showed that the aorta split all along its length, including the arteries that supply blood to the brain, kidneys and digestive system. The aorta’s valve also leaked appreciably.

Russian doctors said they were unable to treat him.

Prof. Gideon Sahar, head of cardiothoracic surgery at Soroka, received a phone call from Moscow informing him of the case.

“It seemed the chances of saving him were close to nil,” said Sahar. “Every hour that passed reduced his survival by 1 percent; half of all patients with this condition die within two days, but we still felt we had a responsibility to fight for his life.”

After undergoing tests, he was moved to the operating theater. The main problem was how to attach a patient with a completely torn aorta to a heart-lung machine. It was decided, after consultation with Prof. Gabriel Sandro, head of the vascular surgery department, to connect the machine directly to the left ventricle – a procedure that has been carried out only a small number of times abroad and never before in Israel. The best anesthesiologists were assigned to the case.

“It is said,” noted Sandro, “that a surgeon can’t go to bed until his patient wakes up, especially in cases in which the blood circulation is completely halted for a certain time. Long hours of expectation passed until we saw the patient regained consciousness and was able to move his limbs.

We were so excited to see him a day after the operation sitting relaxed on his chair, disconnected from most of the devices except for his iPod on which he was watching his favorite films.”

The patient is recovering, and it is hoped that he will return quickly to his home in Russia, the Clalit Health Services hospital said.

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