For Terry Hettich, the road to recovery has been long and difficult.
"Yeah it was something that a person does not forget." Said Hettich.
In 2005, Terry was severely injured in a car crash in Aberdeen, it was an accident that changed his life forever.
"It took me a year over in Minneapolis to learn how to walk and have all my surgeries, I've got 12 pins and 28 chain-links holding my hip and leg together right now." Said Hettich.
Terry was almost entirely bedridden during his hospital stay in Minnesota and began to develop blood clots due to his immobility. To catch any blood clots that may break off and head to his heart, doctors placed a filter in Terry's Inferior Vena Cava. At the time, it was considered the best option but this lifesaving tool came with some big potential side effects.
"That filter has a propensity to clot the Inferior Vena Cava and cause clots from there all the way back down to the legs and that's what happened in his case." Said Dr. Les Lenter, an interventional radiologist at Avera St. Luke's.
Terry was able to come home to South Dakota, but over the years his legs began to swell and his kidneys gave up.
"My legs were so big that I couldn't hardly move they were just solid together I couldn't walk, the day I came in I just barely could walk in here." Said Hettich.
Terry was seen by Dr. Lenter, who quickly determined his IVC filter had clotted over and was blocking blood circulation. Terry once again had to go under the knife.
Terry's filter clotted in the Inferior Vena Cava, so Dr. Lenter had to first remove that filter and replace it with two stents in both his Iliac Veins. That way the blood could circulate through his legs and his heart was still protected from any potential blood clots breaking off. By clearing out the clots Terry's body finally started working like it should.
"There was no blood coming up from his legs so it's filtering up through collateral vessels or lymphatics or whatever it could, but when we opened up the main flow to his legs again they were able to let the water out." Said Dr. Lenter.
And boy did the water come out.
"136 pounds! In total I lost 148 pounds when I was in the hospital for two and a half months." Said Hettich.
Terry came in for dialysis three times a week. Each visit, an average of 10 pounds of water was removed from his legs. With the weight loss, Terry can walk much easier and his kidneys have started working on their own again. It's an incredible transformation but Terry says the best part was seeing the look on Dr. Lenter's face.
"I saw him in the hall and talked to him and he just kind of stared at me as if to say who are you?" Said Hettich.
Terry walks as much as he can and he's hoping to lose at least another 75 pounds. It's been almost a decade of different procedures, but thanks to Dr. Lenter, Terry's journey to recovery may finally be ending.
"I went on the table and they got me going and I'm here today and I appreciate everything they've ever done for me." Said Hettich.
Terry's case is an extreme one but his story helps showcase the type of talent and care all patients can expect to receive at Avera St. Luke's. For more information about vascular intervention just call 877-AT-AVERA.