Patient thankful for UNT Health medical staff after life-threatening heart ailment

January 21, 2014

Dr. Howard Lund, Allan Kell and PA Julia Reynolds

A few days before Thanksgiving, Allan Kell staggered into his living room, his skin pale and sweating, and collapsed into a chair.

"I think I’m dying," he gasped to his wife, Valerie.

Valerie called 911, but when paramedics arrived, the episode was over. Kell, 72, declined a trip to the emergency room. Already taking blood-thinning medication and with an artificial pacemaker in his chest, he had dealt with heart problems for years.

Two days later, Kell made a routine visit to the UNT Health Coumadin Clinic, which helps patients manage the powerful blood-thinning medication. He mentioned his experience to physician assistant Julia Reynolds. What followed was an example of how UNT Health medical providers use swift interdisciplinary teamwork to deliver extraordinary care – and, in this case, to save Kell’s life.

After listening carefully to Kell, Reynolds marched down the hall to his primary care physician, Howard Lund, MD, who moved Kell into an exam room.

After talking to Kell, Dr. Lund called upstairs to the UNT Health cardiology division. It was late afternoon and Abdul Keylani, MD, was reviewing files. He immediately headed downstairs.

Using a device that extracts data from Kell’s pacemaker, Dr. Keylani was able to determine the cause of Kell’s episode: ventricular tachycardia.

"That means his heart was going at a very fast rate – a rate that usually ends in death," Dr. Keylani said. "It could happen again at any time and, if it did, he could very easily die."

Dr. Keylani told the Kells, "I’m sorry, but you cannot go home today."

Kell was sent to Plaza Medical Center at Fort Worth. The next day, Dr. Keylani performed a cardiac catheter on Kell to make sure no arteries were blocked, and an electrophysiologist implanted a cardioverter defibrillator, which will detect and correct ventricular tachycardia when it occurs.

Kell was released at noon on Thanksgiving Day. He and Valerie enjoyed plates of turkey prepared for them by neighbors. Kell said he’s more active and feels better than he has in years.

 "I honestly believe that if Julia hadn’t listened to me so well, then hit the ground running and gotten all these other doctors involved, I wouldn’t be alive today," he said. "They truly saved me."

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