Donna St. Jean may be retired, but she is far from idle. The busy 69-year-old is an active member of her church, an avid gardener, and proud grandmother involved in the daily care of her two grandchildren, ages seven and thirteen.
In April 2007, St. Jean, who had "never been sick," began to be plagued by unusual symptoms. She periodically had difficulty speaking, and numbness and weakness in her hands made it difficult to push a shopping cart.
In May, after a battery of diagnostic tests, Mahesh Jayaraman, MD found the cause of St. Jean's symptoms-a critical narrowing of the artery supplying the blood to the left side of her brain. Jayaraman immediately had St. Jean admitted to Rhode Island Hospital, and within days he performed angioplasty.
Though St. Jean needed two additional procedures over the next several months, including the insertion of a stent in the diseased vessel, she has been free of symptoms since then. She credits Jayaraman and interventional neuroradiology technology with saving her life.
"Sometimes I forget it even happened," says Tracey Bailey-Gates of her coiling procedure in 1996. At the time, Bailey-Gates was 34 and teaching biology, anatomy, physiology and biotechnology at North Smithfield High School. She and her husband were also busy caring for their three young children.
Bailey-Gates had had migraine headaches since childhood, but one day she became fearful when an especially painful one was accompanied by vomiting, and pain in one arm. Drawing on her academic knowledge, Bailey-Gates "knew this was different," and sought a neurologist.
An MRI revealed a double berry aneurysm, and Bailey-Gates was immediately admitted to Rhode Island Hospital for surgery. Because her aneurysm was deeply buried, Bailey-Gates wasn't a good candidate for craniotomy. Her interventional neuroradiologist, Richard A. Hass, MD, opted for a coiling procedure instead. Bailey-Gates' surgery took only two hours and required eight coils. Haas monitored her condition with periodic follow-up MRIs over the next four years, but she hasn't needed surgery since.
Bailey-Gates and her husband celebrated their twenty-fifth anniversary in August 2009, and the active couple enjoys kayaking, mountain climbing and cross-country skiing with their now-grown children. Though she still has the occasional migraine headache, Bailey-Gates has no other reminders of her experience. "I've been very, very fortunate," she says.