Michael Hendricks, 57, of Tupelo recently celebrated his “first” birthday with family and friends after surviving an abdominal aortic aneurysm that almost took his life. On Jan. 16, 2019, Michael thought he had a kidney stone because of the sharp pains in his back. Michael started driving himself North Mississippi Medical Center-Tupelo but had to stop about half-way there and call for help because the pain was so intense. He arrived at the Emergency Department and was rushed to Surgical Services. “I looked around and thought there seemed to be more people in the room than you would need to take care of a kidney stone,” Michael said. “The next thing I remember is Dr. Stinson in the OR telling me that I had an abdominal aortic aneurysm.”
“An aortic aneurysm is an enlargement or ‘bulge’ that develops in a weakened area within the largest artery in the body,” explains NMMC vascular surgeon Dr. Joey Stinson. “These can happen in the abdomen or in the chest. Without treatment, an aneurysm can burst and cause death.” Dr. Stinson performed an endovascular (or minimally-invasive) procedure in which he used a catheter to place a stent graft to reinforce the wall of the aorta from the inside and help keep the damaged area from rupturing.
Michael spent just over a week in the hospital, most of that in the Critical Care Unit. About a month later, he returned to work as a biology instructor at Itawamba Community College in Fulton. “I didn’t realize until later how close a call I had,” said Michael, who truly had cause to celebrate this year.