"The way I show my appreciation is through food"
MAYWOOD, Ill. -- Peter Vanda checked into Loyola University Hospital Feb. 24 for a complex brain surgery to repair a life-threatening aneurysm.
Dr. John Whapham used a minimally invasive technique that enabled Vanda to go home after just one night in the hospital.
Vanda is so pleased with the result that he has invited Whapham's entire surgical team for a May 8 barbeque at his Lockport restaurant, Ooga Booga Bar-Ba-Q.
The menu includes baby back ribs, smoked burgers, pulled pork, smoked corned beef, Ooga Booga slaw and buttermilk pie.
"I love to watch people eat," Vanda said. "The way I show my appreciation is through food."
Vanda was referred to Loyola after he was diagnosed with a cerebral aneurysm, a weak spot in a brain blood vessel that balloons out and fills with blood. About 6 million Americans -- 1 in 50 people -- have brain aneurysms that could rupture. Each year, aneurysms burst in about 25,000 people, and most die or suffer permanent disabilities, according to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation.
Vanda's aneurysm, located in the middle of his head, was roughly one-fourth inch across. The bulging artery could have burst at any time and caused a debilitating or fatal stroke.
Whapham used a minimally invasive technique that's becoming more common in brain surgery, but requires advanced expertise. Whapham inserted a catheter (thin tube) in an artery in Vanda's leg and guided it up to his brain. The catheter released nine tiny platinum coils into the bulging aneurysm. During the delicate procedure, Whapham placed a stent (wire mesh tube) across the aneurysm opening so the coils would stay in place. Filling the aneurysm with coils caused the blood to clot, effectively sealing the aneurysm. "It's like filling a bathtub with concrete," Whapham said.
Vanda went home the next morning with a Band Aid on his leg. "I feel so lucky that I was able to come to Loyola to get this done," Vanda said. "All the people were genuinely nice."
The technique Whapham used, called "stent-assisted coiling," is an alternative to traditional brain surgery. In the traditional technique, called a surgical craniotomy, a surgeon removes a section of the skull and places a clip on the aneurysm.
Whapham is part of a new generation of neurologists who are using minimally invasive catheters to repair aneurysms, open clogged arteries, extract blood clots and repair blood vessel malformations in the brain. He also opens blocked carotid arteries in the neck.
Vanda, 58, is a long-haul trucker, and has spent 30 years sampling barbecue restaurants and talking to owners. He operates Ooga Booga (which means "Hurry Up!") with his partner Bill Mengarelli. They barbecue Texas style and Southern style.
"I feel good when I'm feeding people," Vanda said. "I'm Polish and Russian. It's all about the food."