February 22, 2024

The journey of a lifetime

Care teams at Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center helped Phillip Crawford survive an abdominal aortic aneurysm. Now he and his wife are traveling the world.

Phillip Crawford is living life to the fullest after a frightening medical emergency.

At 61 years old, Phillip Crawford and his wife Shelle have set off on a 111-day cruise around the world. Rather than wait for retirement, the couple has decided to embark on their trip now.  

“Tomorrow isn’t promised, right?” said Phillip. And he would know.

Life changes in an instant

It was a simple act: Phillip sat at the table and turned behind him to open the door and let their dog out. From upstairs, Shelle heard him screaming in pain.

“He looked alright; nothing was sticking out or anything. But I knew there was something very wrong because he doesn’t complain, and he has never asked for an ambulance,” said Shelle.

Everything after that happened so quickly. The couple arrived at Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center’s emergency room, where they learned that Phillip had suffered an aortic aneurysm, a rupture in the body’s largest artery that can cause deadly bleeding. Vascular surgeon Jeffrey H. Hsu, MD, knew the situation was dire.

“Most of the time, ruptured aortic aneurysms are fatal. Statistics generally show that 50% of patients won’t make it to the hospital, and 50% of those who do won’t survive the operation.”

The team had to work quickly, but after a surgery that lasted 3.5 hours, Dr. Hsu was feeling optimistic. The surgery had gone better than expected, and Phillip had handled it all very well. Unfortunately, Phillip was in for a difficult recovery. While in the intensive care unit, he developed pneumonia and other medical complications. He had to be intubated for 2 weeks.

Throughout Phillip’s 20-day recovery process, a team of health care professionals surrounded him and Shelle. The ICU nurses reassured and supported Shelle, telling her, “It’s a journey, a roller coaster of ups and downs that happen in the ICU.” Meanwhile, in addition to Dr. Hsu’s vascular team, Phillip had a large group of respiratory therapists, nursing staff, infectious disease specialists, and many more showing an unwavering commitment to his well-being. 

A second chance to live life to the fullest

Thanks to the skillful interventions and exceptional care from the people at Fontana Medical Center, Phillip survived his aortic aneurysm. Phillip and Shelle are grateful to everyone who worked to save Phillip’s life because now, the couple is experiencing the journey of a lifetime together. 

Dr. Hsu said he couldn’t be happier for them. “This is the most rewarding part, knowing we make a positive impact on the lives of our patients and their families.”