Albert’s Story

Vein Bypass Surgery Helps an Active 81-Year-Old Enjoy a Pain-Free Life Again

Al Flis

Who says that you have to retire at age 65? Definitely not Al Flis. The 81-year-old currently works six-to-seven-hour shifts at an Ohio Turnpike toll booth two or three days per week. When he’s not working, he enjoys playing golf and walking at least a mile every other day.

When you’re on your feet as much as Al, leg pain is the last thing you want or need.

Al underwent surgery a decade ago for treatment of a popliteal artery aneurysm (behind and below his left knee). When his bypass failed a few years later, his leg pain returned. By the fall of 2015, it was unbearable, so Al sought the care of Vikram Kashyap, MD, Division Chief of Vascular Surgery, UH Cleveland Medical Center; Co-Director, UH Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute; and Professor, Surgery, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

“My left leg was really starting to bother me again. I could stand for hours at a time, but couldn’t walk for more than four minutes.” He continued, “I was doing some research online and saw an article about a new treatment at UH that Dr. Kashyap was involved with using stem cells,” said Al. “I decided to make an appointment with him to discuss what options were available to me.”

After examining the results of an angiogram, Dr. Kashyap explained to Al that the best course of treatment for the pain he was experiencing in his left leg was another bypass operation.

“The results showed that the previous bypass was now severely occluded (blocked),” said Dr. Kashyap. He continued, “I told him that I could take a vein from his right arm and place it in his left leg to re-route the blood around the blockage. We have had very good success with patients who undergo this procedure, and I fully expected Mr. Flis to have the same result.”

Shortly before Thanksgiving 2015, Dr. Kashyap performed the vein bypass surgery on Al at UH Cleveland Medical Center. The four- to five-hour procedure went well and Al – the go-getter that he is – was walking the very next day.

“I was making three trips around the nursing station the day after surgery,” he said.

Al’s follow-up visits with Dr. Kashyap have shown that the bypass vein is carrying the oxygen that his leg muscles need, which has eliminated the pain he felt prior to the procedure.

“I’m not sure that these doctors realize what they do for their patients; how they change our lives for the better,” said Al. “Dr. Kashyap is the perfect doctor. He not only is extremely skilled as a surgeon, but he also has a great bedside manner. I truly like the guy.”

The nurses and other health care professionals at UH who Al encountered also impressed him. “The whole team was great. The nurses even sent me a card, which I thought was so nice.”

Today, Al is back at his part-time job at the toll booth. “I’m very grateful to Dr. Kashyap and UH,” he said. “I wasn’t sure I’d be able to play golf again, but now I can.”

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