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New medical device saves Alberta woman from deadly COVID-19 blood clot

CALGARY — An Alberta woman’s life was saved from a blood clot caused by COVID-19 utilizing a new medical device making its Canadian debut.

The Indigo Lightning CAT12 was used by physicians at the Foothills Medical Centre to remove a pulmonary embolism from Brenda Crowell’s lungs.

“Unfortunately, she had COVID-19,” explained Dr. Jason Wong, the physician who performed the surgery. “Shortly after that, she developed what we would call venous thromboembolic disease. That basically means blood clots that form in the deep veins of the legs or the arms, or possibly can form in the blood vessels in the lungs.

“In Brenda’s case, I’m quite sure that because she had COVID-19, she developed these blood clots from her legs, [which] broke off and went to her lungs.”

Crowell was rushed to the emergency room on May 6 after being clinically dead for more than 30 minutes.

“I made it about halfway to the hospital,” recounted Crowell. “And then I don’t remember anything until I woke up on May 13.

“I had gone into full cardiac arrest by [the] time I got to the hospital.”

Crowell was quickly resuscitated, stabilized, then brought to surgery where the Pulmonary Emergency Response Team used the CAT12 to remove the embolism.

“I was intubated as well,” said Crowell. “They took me to the ICU to stabilize me. And then from there I had the procedure to remove the major blood clot from my lung.”

Crowell was put in a medically induced coma for eight days following the surgery.

The CAT12 uses a flexible catheter, roughly the size of a drinking straw, to remove blood clots. Different sizes of catheters can be fitted depending on the size of the blood vessel. The device is designed to detect the difference between free-flowing blood and blood clots.

The Foothills Medical Centre acquired the CAT12 last year for emergency use.

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