A new minimally invasive heart procedure helped local artist Carlton Davis survive a potentially deadly infection.
“I didn’t think I was going to live, I really didn’t, I felt so horrible,” Davis said.
In December, the 70-year-old Pasadena author, artist and architect had a large bacterial heart infection due to one of his pacemaker wires.
Davis who helped design the North Hollywood Red Line Station was right in the middle of putting together another big project and his life’s dream: his own art show.
“I didn’t think I was going to survive. I didn’t think I was going to get to see this art show,” Davis said.
More than 100,000 Americans every year get pacemakers or defibrillators to help control their heart rates. Though the complication rates are very low – one to five percent – the wires, known as leads, are prone to infection.
“When you have something like this hanging on one of the wires, it can break loose, and if it breaks loose, the infection can go to the lungs,” said Dr. Raymond H.M. Schaerf of Providence St. Joseph Medical Center.
Like most patients, Davis wasn’t well enough to have open-heart surgery, so he became one of 35 patients nationwide to undergo an AngioVac procedure for this condition.
Using a specialized ultrasound, a thin vacuum tube is threaded to the infected area through a neck or leg vein.
“We can advance the catheter so we can try to either suck this off the wire or when we take the wires out, as we did in his case, it breaks loose and then goes into the chamber,” Schaerf said.
Doctors extracted an infected clump the size of an egg.
“When he woke up after the surgery, he looked at me and said, ‘I feel good for the first time in weeks,'” Schaerf said.
In two days, Davis was out of the hospital. He’s recovered so well that later this month he will unveil his art show at Los Angeles’ Art District gallery.
“Now, I’m going to make this show and things are looking up,” he said.
His next goal? An art show in New York.