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

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."

Match Day
Match Day excitement grips TCOM medical students

By Jan Jarvis   The anticipation kept Vincent Wang awake all night. “It’s like Christmas,” the fourth-year medical student said. “You know you’re getting a present, but you don’t know what it is.” Wang was among 213 Texas of College of Osteopathic Medicine fourth-year ...Read more

Mar 20, 2018

Sara Bryd
Public health student to bike across Africa for medical, educational mission

By Sally Crocker   Sara Byrd is looking forward to UNT Health Science Center graduation day for two very big reasons. After crossing the stage in cap and gown at this spring’s commencement ceremonies, the School of Public Health MHA graduate will board a plane for Africa. There she w...Read more

Mar 19, 2018

TCOM Students
Student-led charity golf tournament reaches endowment goal

By Alex Branch   In 2012, medical students Sammy Lee Chong and Nicole Hocevar Howerton helped brainstorm ideas for students to work together for a good cause outside the classroom. They started Tee Off F.O.R.E. TCOM, a golf tournament that raised money for student scholarships at UNT H...Read more

Mar 16, 2018

Gemma Sookprasong
TCOM student’s rocky road to Match Day

By Jan Jarvis   Last fall, Gemma Sookprasong flew to Wichita, Kan., for an interview that could lead to a medical residency at a hospital there. She never made it to the interview, but she did end up at that hospital. “I woke up in a trauma bay,” she said. The car accident th...Read more

Mar 14, 2018