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Connecting the Dots in Medical Mystery Saves Womanís Life

The call came in to Chayim Aruchim's hotline from a distraught son.

His 89 year old mother had been diagnosed with cancer.  She was sent to a world class hospital in New York City, where a prominent surgeon felt that the proper course of treatment would be to remove both the tumor and her stomach.  Unfortunately, serious complications arose as the physician was not able to successfully connect the esophagus and the small intestines, resulting in internal leakage.


It was two months after the surgery that the son was referred to Chayim Aruchim.


His mother was deteriorating.  She had abscesses and infections leaving her unable to tolerate food, creating serious nutritional issues.  The patient had been put on TPN, a short term protocol, but clearly the situation was serious and changes needed to be made.


We spoke to the surgeon, an excellent doctor who we have worked with in the past.

He told us that there was nothing that he could do for the woman. 


He denied that any issues had arisen during the surgery and said that there was no way to help the patient.  He told us that she was too old.  That she was not a candidate for a feeding tube.  And that she had only a 10 percent chance of surviving any further surgeries.  We asked for a second opinion and a third, and both times we were told that if her highly respected surgeon had given up, there was nothing more that could be done.


The son was unwilling to concede defeat and neither were we.  The continuous accumulation of fluids seemed to suggest that a hole hadn’t been properly closed up during surgery and we couldn’t help but wonder if the doctor had made a mistake.  We tried to think of someone who would be willing to take a risk in the interest of saving the patient’s life. 


It was Mt. Sinai Hospital to the rescue as a doctor there took on the case.   Since the original surgeon was slow to send the files, the Mt. Sinai doctor made a personal trip to pick up the records. He looked over the information, consulted with a few colleagues and told us that not only was success a possibility, but that the clock was ticking; the patient was not likely to survive more than 48 hours if we didn’t operate


The new doctor performed three separate procedures.  He inserted a feeding tube, closed the hole that had been left by the previous surgeon and flushed out all of the accumulation.    A few days later a CAT scan showed that the hole was shrinking and the fluid that was draining through a stent was lightening in color, a sure sign of improvement.  Within a few more days the hole was completely closed.  The patient regained consciousness and was weaned off the respirator that she had been on for almost three months.  The doctor insisted that the patient be given food in order to speed the healing process and she has been discharged to a rehabilitation facility where she has begun physical therapy, two courses of action that will help her regain her strength. We have no doubt that with Hashem's help she will continue to improve.


The lesson we learned here?  Never give up and always look at the entire picture to make sure that everything adds up.  We try our best to always be realistic. We know that not every situation has a positive outcome but we have seen over time that when something doesn’t sound right it is important to dig further and find answers, because there is usually a solution. The Chayim Aruchim team of knowledgeable Rabbis, understand medical issues, are committed to seek solutions to keep patients alive and have good contacts with highly professional committed Physicians.