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Rush Solved Heart Problem Others Missed

Helen PatesHelen Pates awoke in the middle of the night with excruciating pain in her upper back.

“I forced myself out of bed and struggled my way down to the car,” Pates said. “I decided to drive myself to Rush because it was less than a mile from my home.”

Pates drove immediately to Rush’s emergency department. A few hours after she was admitted, caregivers at Rush discovered what no one else had: an aortic aneurysm the size of a walnut that had been leaking and could rupture at any time.

It was August 2005, about two years after the then-39-year-old bank vice president had started experiencing extreme fatigue, nausea, back pain and headaches. Pates visited seven doctors during those two years — gastroenterologists, neurologists, primary care physicians and others.

“None of them were at Rush, and none of them could get to the root cause of my symptoms,” Pates said. “But I continued to feel like something was very wrong.”

Members of Rush’s cardiology team performed a pioneering, minimally invasive procedure on Pates. Starting with a small groin incision, a thin catheter was threaded through the femoral artery all the way up to her aorta, where they placed a stent graph, all without opening her chest cavity. Pates went home two days later.

More than 10 years after her successful treatment, Pates continues to show her gratitude through her philanthropy, her volunteerism as a Rush Associates Board member and as a member of the Leadership Committee for the Rush Heart and Vascular Institute.

“The caregivers at Rush did two things for me: They saved my life, and they changed my life forever,” Pates said. “And for that, I’ll be forever grateful.”

Support heart treatment and research at Rush

Philanthropic gifts like Pates’ help staff at Rush find innovative solutions to complex health issues. To learn more about supporting cardiology treatment and research at Rush, please contact Rena Dascal, director of development, at and (312) 942-6871.

You also can support cardiology treatment and research at Rush by making a gift online.

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