Aortic Dissection: Vincent’s Story

As a natural athlete and a U.S. Air Force veteran, Vincent Anderson had always been blessed with great health – with the exception of some minor back problems after many years of playing team sports. But a few days before Thanksgiving in 2020, 43-year-old Vincent experienced unusual discomfort in his back. He decided to get it checked out at the military hospital. His doctor assured him it was likely related to his existing back issues because he was in otherwise good health and presented no other symptoms. 

Aortic Dissection Diagnosis

Days later, however, Vincent began feeling sick and had difficulty breathing. His wife, Jamilla, rushed him to the military hospital's emergency room. Vincent’s doctor informed Jamilla that her husband had aortic dissection and needed emergency surgery. Aortic dissection is a rare but serious condition in which the aorta (the body’s main blood vessel) tears. Due to the low blood bank levels at the military hospital, Vincent was transferred to University Hospital. 

Emergency Surgery at University Hospital

Cardiac surgeon Dr. Dawn Hui led the operation at University Hospital. Jamilla and Vincent’s family leaned into their faith and reached out to University Health chaplain Jeannie Atkinson for spiritual support. Ultimately, the operation saved Vincent's life.

Rehabilitation and RecoveryVincent and his aorta-versary cake

After the surgery, Vincent spent nearly a month at University Hospital recovering and rehabilitating. Now, he is back in good health and is a doting husband and dad to two sweet daughters. With the support of his wife, Vincent leads a healthy lifestyle and stays on track with his medications and physician follow-ups.

Vincent and Jamilla credit their faith with helping them through this event, but they also know a greater force was at play when Dr. Hui and her team were in the right place at the right time. 

"The doctor's decision at the military hospital to refer us to University Health is one we're forever grateful for," Jamilla said. "Everyone was so kind and informative." 

The Andersons praised every member of the staff who worked closely with Vincent, from doctors to nurses and interns to the administration team. They give special recognition to Dr. Hui for providing compassionate, life-saving care and stellar aftercare.

While aortic dissection is a rare condition, the Andersons urge the public to pay close attention to even the smallest changes in their health, especially those with a history of high blood pressure. 

Preventive Care at University Health

Working closely with a primary care provider can help reduce your risk of heart disease and aortic dissection. 

Take our heart risk assessment to see if you are at risk for heart disease.

Subscribe icon
Get health living and wellness information, recipes, and patient stories from University Health.
View other related content by:

Tell us your patient story

Share your inspiring personal story of hope and healing at University Health.
A flat design styled fitness and exercise icon with a long side shadow.
Are you at risk for heart disease?

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.

Our free online risk assessment only takes a few minutes. It will help you better understand your risk of developing heart disease and how you may be able to lower it.

Take the Heart Health Assessment