Massive blood clot requires 12-hour procedure in Boston

Twenty-one-year-old Kimberly Hodnett had been experiencing some unusual symptoms for a couple of days – shortness of breath, racing heartbeat. At first she thought it was anxiety but her normal medication didn’t seem to be helping. On day three, she grew concerned enough to go to the emergency department at MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta to find out what was wrong.

A CT scan showed her pulmonary artery was twice its normal size. The culprit? A massive blood clot that was blocking about 90% of the blood flow between her lungs and the rest of her body. For the next 24 hours doctors gave her medications to try and break up the clot but it didn’t work. She needed advanced care from pulmonary embolism specialists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Because it’s impossible to predict if the clot will grow or move and make things much, much worse, Kim’s condition was still very tenuous. A 3- or 4-hour trip by ground ambulance was out of the question. Her team at MaineGeneral called for LifeFlight. The helicopter could make the trip in about an hour and the clinical crew could provide a high level of care on the way.

In Boston, Kim underwent a 12-hour procedure in which doctors placed a catheter in her neck and used it to deliver medicine directly to the clot to break it apart. The treatment worked but Kim was surprised at how long she continued to feel exhausted and short of breath. Back home in Jefferson she tried to do a lot of walking around the house and also attended cardio rehab in Augusta.

After about 2 months she was starting to feel like herself again and returned to work about 3 months after her ordeal. Today her life is back to normal, filled with family, travel and lots of time spent with her trusty beagle companion, Jack.

CommSpec Terri Smith
Pilot Dave Burr
Medic Carl Zenk
Nurse Jay Fonseca