Published on July 18, 2019

Frankfort Man Fully Recovers from Ruptured Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

Jay Solheim and care team

Jay Solheim of Frankfort has no memory of what happened to him between mid-October and the latter part of November 2018. On the morning of Oct. 14, Solheim fell off his living room couch and became unconscious. His wife Sylvia immediately called 911, and an ambulance showed up to their home within minutes.

“When they got there he wasn’t completely out, but he couldn’t speak, and his eyes weren’t focused,” she said. “The paramedics said they thought he was having a stroke.” Paramedics rushed Solheim to Silver Cross Hospital where he was evaluated.

By the time he arrived to Silver Cross Hospital, Solheim was conscious and seemed to be doing better. He continued to be monitored closely. Shortly thereafter, his blood pressure began dropping. As it turns out, it wasn’t a stroke. A CT scan revealed that Jay had an abdominal aortic aneurysm that ruptured.

An abdominal aortic aneurysm, or “Triple A,” as it’s commonly called by doctors, is caused by the swelling of the aorta – the main blood vessel that leads away from the heart and travels down through the abdomen. It is a life-threatening condition if it ruptures or bursts.

“My son and daughter were there, and he told us very honestly that the chances of Jay surviving the surgery were 15 percent,” Sylvia said. “Even if he did survive, there was the probability that he would need to be on dialysis or life support.”

Solheim was really just at the beginning of his battle. He came through the surgery, but his condition worsened, giving him a 50% chance of survival.

“The nurses who were working on him were just trying to keep everything in balance,” Sylvia added. “It was really remarkable to watch. I remember those nurses that first night the most because they were just so amazing in how they took care of him.”

Sylvia said she spent every night with her husband, only going home to shower and change her clothes. Their other son flew in from Los Angeles and stayed a month. All three children would help, coming in and staying with their father when Sylvia had to go back home.

“He was never alone,” she said. “Without our kids’ support and help I don’t think I would’ve been able to get through it.”

Solheim spent two weeks at Silver Cross before being transferred to another hospital for further care. Three weeks later he came back to the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab at Silver Cross for inpatient rehabilitation.

“I had to relearn a lot,” he said. “I had to learn how to button my shirt, tie my shoes, and walk. There were a whole host of things to practice on.”

Though he has little or no memory of what happened to him, Solheim is forever grateful for the vigilant staff at Silver Cross who worked together to save his life!

“From what I do remember, just from the people I met, the nurses, doctors, and everyone was first class. I feel great today,” he said.

“I’m a very lucky guy. I had very capable people taking care of me,” he added, singling out the great care and teamwork of internal medicine specialist Dr. Maher Mourad, general surgeon Dr. Shishin Yamada, general/vascular surgeon Dr. Sanjeev Pradhan, and all the nurses and staff at Silver Cross Hospital that helped him recover.

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Physicians on Silver Cross Hospital’s Medical Staff have expertise in their areas of practice to meet the needs of patients seeking their care. These physicians are independent practitioners on the Medical Staff and are not the agents or employees of Silver Cross Hospital. They treat patients based upon their independent medical judgment and they bill patients separately for their services.