News Detail

Doctor Shares His Blessing and Saves a Life


"I ended up being in the right place at the right time to save a life."

Remember your first week at a new job?  Dr. Imtiaz Ismail, interventional cardiologist, will never forget his at Hannibal Clinic. His unique skills helped save a life.

A woman in her 60s came to Hannibal Regional Hospital, next door to Hannibal Clinic, experiencing shortness of breath, leg pain and swelling caused by blood clots in her legs and lungs.

The woman needed a procedure known as mechanical thrombectomy to save her life. During mechanical thrombectomy, blood clots are removed from the body through a suction catheter, instead of a blood thinning medication, which can cause its own potentially fatal complications.

“Instantly they feel better,” Dr. Ismail said about patients who undergo mechanical thrombectomy. “The oxygen saturation in their body and their heart rate returns to normal quickly, whereas when using blood thinners there is a possibility of an extended hospital stay due to stress on the heart and even fatal complications.”

While an interventional radiologist at Hannibal Regional had experience in mechanical thrombectomy of the legs to help the woman, no cardiologist in Hannibal had experience doing the procedure to remove blood clots in the lungs via mechanical thrombectomy.

Dr. Ismail, certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine, learned mechanical thrombectomy during his fellowship training at the University of Louisville in Kentucky and Mount Sinai Hospital in Chicago. He had done the procedure as many as 80 times before joining Hannibal Clinic.

So in this emergency situation, Dr. Ismail was asked to come immediately to Hannibal Regional Hospital to scrub in and perform the first mechanical thrombectomy of the lungs in northeast Missouri. Fellow cardiologist also scrubbed in to watch and learn from his technique.

Dr. Ismail removed from the woman’s lungs what in medical terms was a, “significant clot burden.” In other words, when the clots he removed were laid end-to-end, they measured five inches long.

“I am blessed,” Dr. Ismail said. “Thanks to my parents, I ended up being in the right place at the right time to save a life.”

Since his first mechanical thrombectomy at Hannibal Regional Hospital during his first week on the job, Dr. Ismail has done four more cases.

He is also working to change the lives of area residents who suffer from Peripheral Vascular Disease, or PAD. PAD is a common circulatory problem in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to a person’s limbs - usually the legs - leading to pain, particularly when walking.

When possible, Dr. Ismail treats PAD by inserting stents in a patient’s legs to improve blood flow and decrease leg pain, a minimally invasive procedure compared to the alternative of vascular surgery.

Click here to learn more about Dr. Ismail