Vascular surgeon brings rare life-saving surgery to Houston

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A Houston man says he has a new lease on life after undergoing a rare surgery performed by a world renowned doctor who just moved to town.

"Hey, there's no limit now," said Rodolfo Sandoval.

The grandfather of five girls is also a Vietnam War veteran.

"I got wounded two times, so I received two purple hearts," he said.

But, before September, Sandoval said he couldn't even lift a gallon of milk, let alone hold his grandkids.

He was stressed and living on borrowed time, suffering from a complicated aortic aneurysm.

"Every time I felt a little pain in my back or my abdomen I would say, 'Is this it?'"

At 74 years old he became one of the first patients in Houston to undergo an operation by vascular surgeon Dr. Gustavo Oderich.

"I think that Houston is the birthplace of cardiovascular surgery, and I could not conceive that there was not a program like this in Houston," said Oderich.

The program works to implant stent grafts inside the aorta to treat complicated aneurysms through just two punctures in the arm or groin.

He is one of only two doctors in Texas with access to the stents necessary to complete the non-invasive surgery.

"We get access to this early technology as part of an institutional study," he said.

The Brazilian born doctor likens the complicated surgery to building a ship inside a bottle and says it takes a minimum of nine stents.

Dr. Oderich spent years developing the program and helping design the stents at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

But this July he brought his surgery and unique access to UTHealth, hoping to save hundreds of lives through just two punctures.

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