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Arriving with an Emergency

One morning early in 2012, a 70-year-old tourist experienced sudden tightness in her chest upon arrival at the Beijing airport. She was sent to the BJU Emergency Room where, after four hours of thorough examinations, cardiac surgeon Dr. Liu Dong determined that she was suffering from Type 1 Aortic Dissection (AD), a rare and deadly arterial disease. AD claims the lives of 25% of its victims within 24 hours and 90% of its victims within a year.

After the diagnosis, Dr. Liu’s first action was to open a Green Channel through to Beijing’s leading hospital for cardiovascular diseases, Beijing Anzhen Hospital. The coordination happened in partnership with Director Xun Lizhong and Director Zhu Junming. That night, the patient underwent a successful surgery and spent the following week recovering at BJU.

Because the patient was a tourist with no family or friends nearby, Dr. Liu had difficulty constructing a medical history or retrieving relevant medical information regarding the patient. Despite this challenge, the timely diagnosis, management and coordination in this case allowed the patient to exit the operating room just 12 hours after her arrival at the BJU Emergency Room. After five days of recuperating at BJU, the patient’s son and caregiver arrived from the U.S. and brought her home. As a Family Medicine physician in the U.S., the son recognized the danger of his mother’s condition and the complexity involved in the surgery. He wrote a letter of appreciation for his mother’s care.