19-year-old Ahmed Faiz was a high school student when he first began having symptoms. "If I got up quickly, I got a dark haze over my whole visual field," he recalls. "My eyesight would fade out and come back. I remember standing up in the kitchen and falling over backwards for no real reason. We never sought medical advice; it was just an odd thing that came about out of nowhere. A year later I started getting headaches in my right temple. They were preceded by a red flashing on the left. I came to realize that if I saw that light flashing, I could expect a headache, too."
Ahmed eventually saw a doctor in his hometown in Kenya and was treated for migraines. But the headaches worsened and became more frequent as the days progressed. His concerned family decided to see a doctor to get his recommendation of what needed to be done to stop the headaches. “The doctor conducted a lot of tests on me, this included an MRI scan of my brain, and this was when I heard the bad news.” The MRI diagnosed an abnormality. Right behind his eyes in the Dura, or outer lining of the brain, was a large tangle of blood vessels that looked like an Arteriovenous or a Cerebral Malformation.
A malformation is a bundle of veins and arteries that have become abnormally inter-connected. The malformation alters blood flow and can damage surrounding neurons. More seriously, it can rupture and cause a stroke or death. In Ahmed’s case, the malformation was leading to acute Intracerebral Haemorrhage, a condition where there is internal bleeding in the brain tissue. A neurologist in Kenya, where Ahmed lives, highly recommended that he get a second opinion from the best Neurosurgeon in India. This is when Ahmed’s family decided to reach out to Vaidam.
“Our Vaidam Case Manager seemed very kind and extremely knowledgeable about treatments of this nature. She gave us various options to choose from, and assured us that if we needed anything, she was just a phone call away,” said Ahmed. The very next day, Ahmed’s Case Manager Heena Mehta made an appointment at the best neurology hospital in India - Apollo Hospital in Chennai. The family was to arrive in India the following week.
Ahmed met with specialist neurosurgeon Dr. Balamurugan M at Apollo Hospital, Chennai in early August of 2018. “He had an extraordinarily kind manner,” said Ahmed. “A super nice guy. Incredibly clear about the very detailed and complex condition that I supposedly had. I remember he used a lot of analogies which explained the complex procedure in a straightforward manner.” The following week, Dr. Balamurugan performed an angiogram to confirm the dural AVM. “Dr. Balamurugan M told me that there was no doubt that the fistula was causing the severe headaches and there was a danger of rupture,” said Ahmed.
At this juncture, Ahmed had two treatment options: one was open brain surgery to place a clip at the base of the fistula, the other was a procedure called Embolization. It is a process similar to an angiogram; where a micro-catheter is inserted through an artery in the groin and navigated to the brain. A small amount of glue is then injected into the fistula to cut off its blood supply.
“Dr. Balamurugan explained to me that Embolization carries less risk than open brain surgery as it is less invasive. There was no doubt in my mind that this was the treatment I was going to get”.
The very next day, Ahmed went into surgery. The surgery went perfectly. When Ahmed woke up, he felt a world of difference. “I no longer have the terrible headaches and feeling of dizziness. This surgery has definitely had a positive impact,” says Ahmed.
Ahmed spent just one day monitored in the intensive care unit and was discharged by Dr. Balamurugan after all his vitals seemed to be responding well.
Now back in his home country, Ahmed is all praise about the treatment he received. “I have not since had any headaches and dizzy spells. No side effects from the procedure at all. Dr. Balamurugan is wonderful. Something as complex as this, you want a doctor like him at your side.” When asked about Vaidam, he responded, “I just want to sing praises about the help I received from you. I definitely wouldn’t have been able to recover as quickly, had it not been for your support.”
Vaidam would like to wish Ahmed a speedy recovery and a wholesome future ahead.