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Aneurysm Patient Credits Her Full Recovery to Hoag

When Chris Lorenz insisted on taking his wife, Arlene, to the emergency room, Arlene insisted that he take her to Hoag.

Arlene had suffered from a headache all day, and by the time night fell, the pain brought her to her knees. Earlier in the day, she had taken her father to the Ben & Carmela Du Emergency Pavilion at Hoag Hospital Irvine. Impressed by the care her father received, Arlene asked Chris to pass hospitals closer to their home and head to Hoag instead.

The Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute at Hoag is consistently ranked one of the best in the nation, with state-of-the-art equipment and remarkable patient outcomes. Arlene did not know what was happening, but she knew she needed expert care.

In the ER, her CT scan showed that she suffered from a ruptured brain aneurysm. She was transported to Hoag Hospital Newport Beach, and the neuro-interventional team at Hoag stepped in immediately to perform a minimally invasive endovascular coil embolization procedure that saved her life and spared her from an open brain surgery.

Few hospitals in the area are equipped with the latest-generation imaging technologies that allow neuro-interventional radiologists to perform complex minimally invasive image-guided procedures to repair aneurysms and address stroke and other neurological emergencies.

While Arlene healed from her aneurysm, her condition still concerned her doctors. Her brain was showing moderate to severe vasospasm, which can severely restrict the blood supply to the brain and cause a potentially devastating stroke. She spent 18 days in the intensive care unit where the vasospasm and her recovery were managed by her expert team.

“Cognitively, I was doing fine, and I was able to answer the neuro-check questions,” she said. But the vasospasms were not going away, and she underwent a second procedure, this time to prevent her stroke. One of her physicians called her an “enigma,” because while she was still demonstrating vasospasms, her motor and cognitive functions were normal.

As unusual as her situation was, Arlene said her care was even more extraordinary. Following two traumatic brain events and several months of occupational therapy, she is healthy and back to normal, something she said would not have been possible without the care she received at Hoag.

“I really felt positive in the ICU,” she said. “The people had good energy, so it made me feel that I’d be okay.”

In gratitude for her recovery, Arlene and Chris threw a party for family, friends and colleagues. Her guest of honor was Anne Cummings, R.N., B.S.N., a Hoag nurse whose compassion greatly helped Arlene through this complicated ordeal.

“It is an honor, to be alive and sit before you today, to share my story,” Arlene told her party guests. “I am eternally grateful for the effective procedural skills of Dr. Christopher Baker, the attentiveness of my neuro ICU team, my rehab therapists and my loving ‘village.’ Without them, I would not have experienced a remarkable recovery rate that has allowed me this second chance at life.”