A Life Interrupted

Advanced treatment for aneurysm saves wife and mother

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Andrea Gragg had lived a full life without any serious health concerns when the unimaginable happened. A strange flash of yellow lights. A fall forward. A race to the emergency room at Abrazo West Campus. A life interrupted - but saved at the hands of experienced medical professionals.

That winter night, Andrea was suffering from a hemorrhagic stroke caused by a ruptured brain aneurysm. The ruptured blood vessel caused blood to leak into the brain tissue surrounding the damaged artery which was causing her symptoms. The stroke brought her symptoms on rapidly and without warning during a simple dinner with her husband. Without the care she received at Abrazo Community Health Network’s Abrazo West Campus and Abrazo Central Campus, Andrea said she would not be here today.

“I’m so grateful for Abrazo,” said Andrea, a mother of two. “It’s only by the grace of God and the skills of the physicians that I am here today.”

Tragedy struck Andrea Dec. 16 last year. When she arrived at the Abrazo West Campus emergency room in Goodyear, her blood pressure was soaring and she was in the throes of a crippling, life-threatening event. Once stabilized, she was immediately transferred to Abrazo Central Campus which offers comprehensive stroke care.

Andrea’s condition was dire. Dr. Ahmed El-Gengaihy, a board-certified vascular neurologist, said Andrea would have died within a couple of days if she had not received immediate treatment. Dr. El-Gengaihy placed platinum coils into Andrea’s ruptured aneurysm which stopped the bleeding into her brain and ultimately preserved and restored her brain function.

Abrazo Central’s dedicated Biplane endovascular suite includes a technologically advanced neuroangiography system with state-of-the-art imaging. This advanced technology may allow physicians to deliver potentially life-saving care to patients with speed and accuracy by providing enhanced visualizations of the brain and spine, including 3D imaging and advanced navigation.

In collaboration with Dr. El-Gengaihy and the specialty-trained neuro intensive care staff, Dr. Marco Marsella, a neurosurgeon and chief of neurosurgery at Abrazo Central Campus, also performed a critical procedure to drain fluid from Andrea’s brain causing swelling and sent her on her road to recovery.

Andrea spent the next two weeks recuperating at the hospital. Remarkably, she walked and talked with no significant problems. Even though she was weak and needed to use a walker, she walked out of the hospital with a new lease on life.

In the blur of that frightening December month, one thing was abundantly clear: she had survived. Today, Andrea, retired from the city of El Mirage and Avondale Elementary School District, cherishes time spent with her family and embraces life.

“I’m alive with all of my faculties,” she said.

Disclaimer: Dr. Ahmed El-Gengaih and Dr. Marco Marsella are independent physicians and are not employees, agents or representatives of Abrazo Community Health Network’s Abrazo Central Campus. They are solely responsible for the provision of their medical services to their patients. For more health information, go to AbrazoHealth.com.