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Beau Biden is in Great Hands at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital


water cooler   logoBeau Biden, the son of Vice President Joe Biden is doing fine after suffering a stroke.  Outside Thomas Jefferson University Hospital today, Vice President Joe Biden held up a cheesesteak and yelled to reporters that "My son is doing great!"

Beau Biden, who by default has access to pretty much anything he could ever want or need (his Dad is the second most powerful man in the world) is in great hands at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.  In the Philadelphia area, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital is known as "Jeff." We hear the commercials all the time and aside from being a state of the art medical facility and renown Neuroscience facility, Thomas Jefferson is the region's only dedicated hospital for neuroscience.  And, this is a hospital that many average people can have access to-not just the wealthy and privileged.

One of those average people with the privilege of being treated at Thomas Jefferson was my father who suffered a ruptured cerebral aneursym in September 2002.  The official diagnosis according to doctors is that he suffered from a subarachnoid hemmorrhage, bleeding in the brain caused by a ruptured brain aneursym.  I remember it like it was yesterday when I first spoke to my Dad when he was admitted.  It was like a bad dream as we were having a normal conversation like he was perfectly fine except that he kept asking me "what time is it" and "how long has he been in there?" He could carry on a normal conversation, but had no conception of time whatsoever.

The doctors at "Jeff" (Thomas Jefferson) were phenomenal.  Renowned Neurosurgeon Dr. Erol Veznedaroglu handled my father in spectacular fashion.  He got right down to business with us that evening and waisted little time in explaining the severity of the situation and telling us what our two options were. That morning we would learn if my Dad would have the less-invasive procedure (involving placing coils in the aneursym) or the much more invasive and dangerous open-skull surgery.  Dr. Erol Veznedaroglu who at the time was at Thomas Jefferson, is now a director of Neurosciences and Endovascular & Cerebrovascular Neurosurgery at Capital Health.  You may also recognize "Dr. Vez" during Eagles games on WYSP as he did a series of sit-downs with Merrill Reese to spread the word about strokes.  These interviews aired during commercial breaks.

The surgery was a success and fortunately he had the less-invasive procedure. He was in the ICU for roughly ten days and spent the remainder of his three-week stay in the intermediate unit.  My pop had a lot of luck on his side.  Many people die immediately from a ruptured cerebral aneurysm.  In his case, he was in the "Grade 3" area of the scale meaning it was severe and life-threatening, but he didn't suffer a severe neurological deficit immediately.  His struggles would come after the Endovascular coiling procedure- a minimally invasive procedure that accesses the treatment area from within the blood vessel.

In the case of aneurysms, this treatment is called coil embolization, or "coiling".  And, they didn't even have to do open-brain surgery.  In fact, they went up through the femoral artery in his leg. 

In all, it would take him another 5 weeks after that to become the "Dad" we all knew.  He was completely out of it for the first month after the procedure as the brain was healing.

I maintain to this day the most amazing thing I've ever witnessed is when my brother and his wife at the time were visiting my Dad in his room on a Friday night when he was in intermediate care.  This was a few days before he was scheduled to be released to the Health South Rehab Facility near Wyomissing.  Up this point, he could barely speak or stay awake long enough to recognize anybody's presence as he was still heavily sedated and in recovery mode.  My brother brought him a battery for his hearing aid and asked him to try and put it in his hearing aid.  Recovering from a stroke is a lengthy process mind you, so speaking let alone sitting up eating is huge task.  You have to essentially relearn everything. When my father managed to figure out how to open up his hearing aid and put the battery back in, it was an incredible moment-his turning point.  We knew before long he would be back to his normal self.

Beau Biden has the privilege of being treated by the staff at one of the greatest Neuroscience hospitals in not just the entire country, but the entire world.  He also has age on his side.  At this point, it hasn't been disclosed if Beau Biden's stroke was the result of a ruptured cerebral aneurysm or a blood clot. The treatments are quite different for each type of stroke.  No matter what though, he's in the greatest possible hands at Jeff.