Two aneurysm repairs help man remain active

Frank AndrewsWhen Frank Andrews learned he had a massive aneurysm in his lower abdomen in 2003, he called his son, a physician living in California and a graduate of University of Florida’s College of Medicine.

His son, Robert J. Andrews, M.D., recommended Mr. Andrews travel from his hometown of Port St. Lucie, Florida, to see UF physicians at Shands.

Andrews complied and traveled from Port St. Lucie to Gainesville via ambulance on a Sunday. The next day, UF vascular surgeons replaced Andrews’ aorta with a tube graft made of fabric to repair the aneurysm, a balloon of blood that forms when the walls of the aorta are weakened.

Andrews was very happy with the results.

“There was minimal blood loss,” he said, “which surprised my son … that they were able to do that good a job. I had a remarkable recovery. I think I was out of here in four or five days. It wasn’t very long.”

When a routine post-operative check-up with UF surgeons in late 2010 revealed an aneurysm in his chest, Robert J. Feezor, M.D., an assistant professor of surgery, worked with Philip J. Hess, M.D., an associate professor in the division of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery, to place three stents grafts to repair the new aneurysm.

UF surgeons work through a needle hole in the skin in the patient’s groin to place stents grafts, tube-shaped devices, inside the weakened section of the aorta. The surgeons use a wire to guide the stent graft to the aneurysm. Once it is in place, the stent graft relieves pressure on the walls of the aorta, allowing them to heal.

Andrews’ condition required a brief stay in the intensive care unit after each surgery.

“I think the ladies in the ICU are absolute angels,” he said. “I don’t know how they can be so compassionate. It’s just absolutely wonderful.”

Feezor sees Andrews routinely for check-ups. Six months after his second aneurysm repair, Andrews said he is feeling fine.

He said genetics are likely a factor in his development of multiple aneurysms, but he stays away from especially strenuous activities.

“I don’t get into things that torque my body, such as golf and things like that, and I try to limit the weight that I lift.”

The aneurysms and surgeries have not stopped Andrews from doing what he loves: working with animals in need. After abandoning several attempts to retire, Andrews works for the Humane Society in Port St. Lucie.

He credits UF surgeons and Shands nurses for keeping him alive.

“I’m glad that I was blessed with (a surgeon who) really knew what they were doing,” he said. “Very reassuring.”