‘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, less invasive, life-saving 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, life-saving and less invasive cardiac procedure.

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

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

But one day, he accidentally felt an unbearable pain.

“It all hit with full force, I started to feel debilitating pain in my chest…I was in excruciating pain, I wasn’t sure what was going on,” he said.

He had an aortic aneurysm and was in intensive care for 22 days, doctors told his wife he had a heart bleed, she said she was worried 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,” said Nilsa Gomez.

She said he had been home from hospital for a few weeks, had previously been a very independent person, and was suddenly unable to do anything on his own.

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

Intermountain Health Cardiologists John Doty and Evan Brownie noticed that Antonio Gomez’s aorta had doubled in size in the month following his aneurysm.

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

“Unfortunately his was not healing. It continued to grow and enlarge and become dangerous for rupture,” Doty said.

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

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

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

The new procedure allows surgeons to maintain blood flow to the brain throughout surgery and can reduce recovery time from weeks to just days.

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

“I’m so grateful to everyone who took care of me those days,” he said.

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

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