Traveling Halfway Around the World for Lifesaving Treatments in Houston

With some of the nation’s best hospitals, surgeons and rehabilitation facilities, Houstonians may take for granted the specialized medical care provided across the Bayou City and its surrounding communities. It’s a level of care that inspires people from all over the world to travel here. Haya, a native of Kuwait, is living testimony to that.

“I have been to Massachusetts General, Cedars Sinai, the Mayo Clinic, and nowhere did I receive the same level of coordinated care that I received at Memorial Hermann,” says Haya.

Accessing Care Through the International Patient Program

It all started in November 2017 when Haya was experiencing a variety of health issues and sought care through the International Patient Program offered at Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center. The program works with patients from around the world to facilitate their medical journey.

“Personalized guidance is provided through every aspect of treatment for our international patients, including translators and caring for special religious and cultural needs,” says Abeer Saqer, Director of International Services and Business Development at Memorial Hermann Memorial City.

Haya’s annual physical through the Memorial Hermann Executive Health Program uncovered something serious: a blockage in her carotid artery. The physician recommended Haya visit Arash Keyhani, DO, a vascular surgeon.

“Haya’s carotid artery was 70 percent blocked when I saw her. Unfortunately, her history of uncontrolled diabetes likely played a role in creating that blockage. I performed a carotid endarectomy, which opens and cleans the artery to help restore normal blood flow,” says Dr. Keyhani.

Haya returned to Kuwait, where the surgical site became infected. To obtain treatment, she came back to Memorial Hermann Memorial City, where Dr. Keyhani then performed a vein graft.

“Due to her recent carotid endarectomy, Haya was at a higher risk for having a stroke after this second surgery. Luckily, the team at Memorial Hermann Memorial City is highly trained and takes the steps needed to prevent the formation of clots, which could lead to a stroke,” says Dr. Keyhani.

Haya’s Health Journey Takes an Unexpected Turn

While recovering from her vein graft, Haya underwent an angiogram to check the condition of other blood vessels in her body. Cardiovascular disease specialist Salah El Hafi, MD, discovered she had multiple blocked arteries in her chest and needed triple bypass surgery.

“Usually, people who have similar arterial conditions as Haya would feel chest tightness or pain. However, because she is a woman who has diabetes, it wasn’t surprising that she didn’t experience the classic symptoms. She experienced fatigue and shortness of breath and was at a very high risk to have a heart attack,” says Donald Gibson, MD, the heart surgeon who performed a triple bypass on Haya in December 2017.

Haya stayed in Houston for several months recovering from surgery, receiving wound care treatment, getting her diabetes under control and participating in the cardiac rehabilitation program. Haya says she was impressed by the level of communication between all of the physicians she saw during her months in Houston.

“Without the close supervision I received from everyone here — the nurses, physicians, wound care center — I would not have recovered as fast.  Memorial Hermann gave me a second chance at life and I can’t thank everyone enough,” Haya says.

More Coordinated Care Leads to the Best Possible Outcomes

“Haya had a very complex medical history and it was a team effort to get her to where she is today.  The affiliated cardiologists, cardiovascular surgeons and vascular surgeons at Memorial Hermann work together on a daily basis to make sure we provide coordinated care that results in the best possible outcome for patients,” says Dr. Gibson.

“It’s rewarding to see a patient strive to make changes to their lifestyle and habits, especially someone like Haya who was very sick. If she continues on this healthier path, and manages her diabetes, hopefully she won’t have to return anytime soon!” says Dr. Keyhani.

Learn more about the International Patient Program at Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center, or about the full spectrum of heart and vascular services offered at Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute-Memorial City.

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Ali Vise