USC student saved by fast action of the Palmetto Health Richland neurosurgery team
Just four days after his graduation from Ridge View High School, Raoul Jenkins II was driving to see friends when he had a car accident. His sister and some friends quickly arrived on the scene, finding him shook up and disoriented. When he tried to get out of the car to get some water, he had a seizure and collapsed.
Rushed to Palmetto Health Richland, testing revealed that Jenkins had suffered a ruptured cerebral aneurysm.
A cerebral aneurysm is a bulging or “ballooning” in the wall of a blood vessel in the brain. If an aneurysm grows, it can rupture and lead to bleeding in the brain. A burst aneurysm is an extremely dangerous condition and requires immediate medical attention. It can be fatal in about 40 percent of cases. Of those who survive, about 66 percent suffer some permanent neurological damage.
Jenkins underwent several quick interventions by Palmetto Health’s neuroendovascular team, including a minimally-invasive procedure known as “coiling.” Material coils were packed into the aneurysm through a catheter. His skull was then opened to allow his brain to expand.
“When we first saw Raoul, he had an 80 percent chance of not surviving,” says Roham Moftakhar, MD, chief of neurosurgery at Palmetto Health Richland and medical director of Palmetto Health-USC Neurosurgery. “But after several interventions and a period in the ICU, he slowly regained consciousness and was able to bounce back. He’s had a very nice recovery.”
“It was a blessing,” says Raoul’s mother, Karen Jenkins. “He could have been driving when the aneurysm occurred. He could have been in the pool with his friends when it occurred.”
Raoul Jenkins has spent the past year enjoying his freshman year at the University of South Carolina. He’s studying biology with the goal of becoming a biology professor. He completed physical and speech therapy this year and is improving every day.
“It’s been a long process, definitely hard, but I’m getting there,” says Raoul Jenkins. “My short-term memory has gotten a lot better, and my left side is getting stronger because I’m definitely using it more often. I make a conscious effort to do more things using my left side. I’m proud of myself.”
“He’s grown tremendously in his ability, his confidence,” says Karen Jenkins. “It’s just so heartwarming to see him get to this point from where he was.”
Moftakhar believes that others can be helped if they received treatment quickly. That is one of the reasons Palmetto Health wants to bring awareness to September as National Brain Aneurysm Awareness Month. The neurosurgeons of Palmetto Health-USC Medical Group want the public to be aware of this potentially dangerous condition, its signs and symptoms and where to get immediate medical attention.
According to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation, around 6 million people in the United States have an unruptured brain aneurysm. That is about 1 in 50 people. Conversely, about 30,000 people in the United States suffer a brain aneurysm rupture every year.
Palmetto Health Richland has a team that provides 24/7 coverage for the intervention or surgical treatment of aneurysms from a dedicated team of neurosurgeons, neuroendovascular surgeons, stroke neurologists, technologists and nurses who specialize in these conditions.
“Years ago we had to open up the brain, and the patient was in the hospital recovering for weeks,” says Moftakhar. “Now, except for extreme cases such as Raoul Jenkins, we no longer have to open up the skull. After surgery, patients are left with only a small dressing in the groin area. Most can go home the next day, and they can get back to work in just a few days in cases when the aneurysm has not ruptured. It’s amazing that our technology and expertise have progressed so much that we can offer such advanced technology to improve our patients’ lives.”
There isn’t anything a person can do to prevent a brain aneurysm, but it’s important to know the signs. Some of the stroke-like symptoms include:
“If any of these happen,” said Moftakhar, “call 911 and have them take you to the nearest hospital.”
If you or someone you love has been affected by a brain aneurysm or arterioenous malformation (AVM), the Joe Niekro Foundation holds a support group 6-8 p.m., the third Thursday of every month, at Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital, Derrick room, 7 Richland Medical Park Dr., Columbia. For more information, contact Mary Pat Baldauf at ColumbiaSC@JoeNiekroFoundation.org.
For more information about Palmetto Health-USC Neurosurgery, call 803-434-8323 or visit PalmettoHealth.org/Neurosurgery.
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