For a Texas heart specialist who not too long ago saved Santa Claus’ life, Christmas got here early when Kris Kringle stopped by the hospital to precise his gratitude.
Dennis Vaughan, 74 — alongside along with his spouse (“Mrs. Claus”) and their youngsters and grandchildren — visited the helipad of Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Heart in Houston for a reunion with Dr. Anthony Estrera and the Life Flight crew who saved Vaughn’s life in September.
In step with the spirit of the season, Vaughan and his spouse had been all suited up for Christmas.
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Fox Information Digital spoke with Vaughan, his spouse and Dr. Estrera concerning the near-death expertise, the life-saving measures taken by his care group — and the joyful reunion.
Vaughan, a retired welder, has been filling the function of Santa for the previous a number of years.
For a Texas heart specialist who not too long ago saved Santa Claus’ life, Christmas got here early when Kris Kringle stopped by the hospital to precise his gratitude. (Memorial Hermann Health System)
He and his spouse make common visits to Christmas events, church buildings, day cares and colleges in the course of the holidays.
“It actually brings pleasure to the children — to see their faces gentle up when Santa walks in,” Vaughan advised Fox Information Digital. “It’s been actually enjoyable.”
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Simply earlier than the beginning of the 2023 vacation season, Vaughan was about to go to a health care provider’s appointment. However earlier than they left the home, his spouse discovered him seated along with his head slumped over — he had handed out.
Dennis Vaughan and his spouse have been dressing as Santa and Mrs. Claus for the previous a number of years, stopping by church buildings, day cares and vacation events. (Dennis Vaughan)
She known as 911, and Vaughan was rushed to a neighborhood hospital, the place it was decided that he’d had an aortic dissection, or a tear within the aorta, the biggest artery within the physique.
The tear triggered inner bleeding round Vaughan’s coronary heart, placing him liable to dying.
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“They thought he had died as a result of he was so pale and he was dropping blood,” Vaughan’s spouse advised Fox Information Digital.
Medical doctors advised her that Vaughan would have died inside half-hour with out quick medical consideration.
Recalling the incident by tears, Vaughan stated, “If it had been my time to go, I had made my peace with God.”
Vaughan is proven arriving on the helipad to reunite along with his physician and LifeFlight group. (Memorial Hermann Health System)
After the analysis, Vaughan was transported to Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Heart by LifeFlight.
Estrera, professor and chair at UTHealth Houston and Memorial Hermann Coronary heart & Vascular, carried out emergency surgical procedure and changed the torn aorta with a graft — a process that he in comparison with a plumber changing a damaged part of pipe.
“It was an absolute group effort — all the things needed to work completely,” Estrera advised Fox Information Digital.
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“He was hypertensive and in shock and each minute mattered,” the physician stated. “We went straight from the helicopter pad to the working room.”
The dissection had triggered bleeding into and round Vaughan’s coronary heart, which is why he handed out.
“Mr. Vaughan had a whole lot of angels taking care of him that day.”
“He had no blood circulate going anyplace — so we needed to function as quickly as attainable to launch the blood in order that we may get some coronary heart operate again after which rebuild his aorta, which is the primary pipe of the physique.”
Estrera was in a position to rebuild the portion of the aorta that had been dissected.
Vaughan was emotional as he greeted Dr. Estrera and members of the LifeFlight group who saved his life. “It was necessary for me to provide because of them,” he stated. (Memorial Hermann Health System)
“If there had been even a second’s delay, he would not be with us,” the physician stated. “Mr. Vaughan had a whole lot of angels taking care of him that day.”
Gazing forward, Vaughan might want to handle his blood stress, Estrera famous, as excessive stress can have an effect on the stress forces on the aortic wall.
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Adhering to a nutritious diet and avoiding smoking can even assist stop future coronary heart occasions, the physician stated.
“He has no large restrictions — though he most likely should not be lifting 100-pound luggage or something like that,” Estrera joked. “All in all, he can dwell a standard life.”
Two months after Vaughan’s near-death expertise, he and his spouse had an emotional reunion with the medical group at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Heart in Houston on Wednesday.
Vaughan embraces members of his medical care group in the course of the emotional reunion. ( Memorial Hermann Health System)
Wearing his Santa uniform, Vaughan hugged Estrera and the LifeFlight crew as he broke into tears. Mrs. Claus handed out selfmade Christmas cookies to everybody.
Vaughan advised Fox Information Digital that he felt compelled to share his gratitude with the individuals who saved him.
“It was necessary for me to provide because of them,” he stated.
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Vaughan and his spouse are trying ahead to a calming vacation with their two youngsters and 6 grandchildren.
They plan to return to the Santa circuit subsequent yr, after he’s had a while to relaxation and get well.
What to learn about aortic dissections
Whereas aortic dissections will not be as widespread as coronary heart assaults, Estrera emphasised that they do occur.
Though Vaughan’s preliminary medical doctors recognized the analysis when he was introduced in, the situation is usually neglected.
Vaughan and his spouse are pictured with their six grandchildren. (Dennis Vaughan)
“The issue is individuals do not acknowledge it when people are presenting with chest ache,” Estrera stated.
“That is why it is so necessary to extend consciousness of this example. When somebody’s having chest ache, it is extra typically a coronary heart assault, however you possibly can’t neglect concerning the different diagnoses as a result of the therapies are utterly totally different.”
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The primary danger elements for aortic dissection are hypertension, smoking and household historical past.
“This runs in households 20% of the time,” stated Estrera. “That is why it is necessary to pay attention to people who might have a household historical past or have had a sudden dying.”
The physician added, “If Mr. Vaughan [had] died and by no means gotten an post-mortem, individuals would have simply assumed it was a coronary heart assault or stroke.”
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