Near-fatal incident prompts life-saving blood drive

Jim Grant/Nevada Appeal

Jim Grant/Nevada Appeal

While sitting in his office at Michael Hohl Honda on Tuesday, Chad Cryer said he is lucky to be alive.

The 38-year-old Dayton man and father of three is still recovering from an aortic dissection, which is when the aorta - the body's largest artery - begins to split and eventually ruptures. It happened on Nov. 1.

While in the hospital, Cryer used 44 pints of blood, which is why on Saturday Michael Hohl Honda, 2800 S. Carson St., is hosting a blood drive with United Blood Services from 10 a.m. to

2 p.m. Organizers are hoping for at least 35 donors.

Cryer returned to work on Jan. 15 after spending a month in the hospital. While sitting at his desk on Tuesday he recalled the day it happened.

"I collapsed twice in here, I didn't know what it was," Cryer said. He had been suffering from back pain most of the day and figured it had maybe caused him to pass out.

He was wrong. With his wife on her way to pick him up, Cryer passed out again.

That's when his co-workers called 911.

"It's a good thing they did," Cryer said.

On the ride to the hospital, "I told them it was my back, and they said, 'no, it's your heart,'" Cryer said.

A half hour later Cryer was in emergency surgery at Carson Tahoe Regional Healthcare where heart surgeon Todd Chapman rushed to save Cryer's life.

After three surgeries, Cryer had used 44 pints of blood (the average man has about 10 pints of blood).

"I'm actually really, really fortunate to be here,"

he said.

Chapman said an aortic dissection is often mistaken with an aortic aneurysm, which is when the aorta pops like a balloon.

Instead, during an aortic dissection, the artery, "tears itself apart and when it tears itself apart you just die in a few seconds," Chapman said.

"The select few who feel it, it's the worst pain ever," Chapman said. "If you can get in before it ruptures then you can fix it and that's what we did."

Cryer also suffers from a genetic disorder called Marfan Syndrome, which weakens connective tissues and can lead to aortic dissections. Chapman said those who have family members with the syndrome can be tested for it, too.

Today, Cryer is still working on building up his endurance. He said his employer has been understanding throughout the entire ordeal.

"My endurance is real low and they're working with me very well and letting me know when I get tired it's time to go home," he said. "They're more concerned with my health. They're really looking out for me."

Jan McKee, the donor recruitment representative for United Blood Services in Reno, said the hospitals in the region, which include Susanville, Calif., Elko and about an hour south of Bishop, Calif., use about 120 pints of blood each day.

She said each donation amounts to about one pint of blood, plasma and platelets. There is a new procedure that also extracts two pints of red blood cells, but does not extract plasma or platelets.

McKee said they are hoping to get 25 pints of blood on Saturday from at least 35 people.

"Because of the fact that we need 120 on a daily basis, we're constantly in a need of blood," she said.

Donors must be at least 17, feeling well the day of the donation and have not had a tattoo done in the past 12 months. For more information, call 775-324-6454.


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