Disneyland Fanatic Has Unique Surgery to Allow Her Monthly Visits to Theme Park
64-year-old Casa de Oro woman undergoes aortic endograft procedure.
You could say Lura Kienzle is a bit of a Disney fanatic.
The 64-year-old gleefully boasts that she and her "Mousekapals," a tight-knit group of six friends from San Diego, visit the Disneyland theme park in Anaheim about once a month.
But that monthly trek had to be put on the back burner last September when Lura started to not feel well.
The San Diego County resident says she began to find herself out of breath while walking up hills she hadn't had problems with in the past. Not long after, she began to lose her appetite. She lost 35 pounds in just two months, which is a considerable amount, especially for her 4-foot-8-inch frame.
"It was really weird, I didn't have any energy, and I didn't want to see anyone," says Lura. "I went to the doctor and had an upper gastrointestinal exam and a colonoscopy and everything was totally fine."
But things weren't fine. And she knew deep down inside something was wrong.
On Nov. 19, her doctor set her up for a CT scan. It was there that technicians discovered she had a large aneurysm pressing up against her spine.
"That same afternoon I got a phone call from the doctor's office saying 'you need to get to the emergency room right now!'"
Once she learned more about the aneurysm — including its location and size — she knew it was serious. Her father had an aneurysm against his spine years earlier — the same size, on the same side, in precisely the same place.
Placement of a fenestrated aortic endograft is a minimally invasive procedure for patients who have complex thoracic and abdominal aortic aneurysms adjacent to the arteries leading to the kidneys. Until now, this type of aneurysm repair required major surgery and lengthy hospital stays. With specially designed fenestrated endografts, surgery is performed through a small incision in the groin using a custom manufactured graft that is created using 3-D technology. Fewer complications are reported with a noted quicker recovery time.
"Lura had a very dangerous problem in that her 8-centimeter aneurysm had ruptured and was contained by wrapping itself around her spine," says Dr. Musicant. "We were able to design and build a stentgraft that was specific to her anatomy and which successfully sealed off her ruptured aorta."
Dr. Musicant is one of fewer than three dozen surgeons in the United States who has been trained to perform this type of procedure. He is the only physician currently certified to perform these procedures in San Diego County.
A few days later, Lura underwent the 5 1/2-hour procedure.
By early December, Lura began physical therapy to begin to work on her strength and regain muscle tone. She says she is putting on weight, feeling better and growing stronger with each day.
Best of all, she's now able to walk around Disneyland with her Mousekapals for the first time in months. To date, since this groundbreaking surgery, she has been to Disneyland half a dozen times — something she thought she may never have the strength to do again.
"This surgery truly gave me a second chance at life."