Denville, New Jersey, Father Receives Lifesaving Care After Life-threatening Aortic Dissection

Denville, New Jersey, Father Receives Lifesaving Care After Life-threatening Aortic Dissection

March 29, 2022

When Bonit Sharma, a 43-year-old father of two from Denville, New Jersey, started experiencing back pain in August 2021, he wasn’t totally surprised. About 15 years ago, he had back pain issues, so he assumed that the same problem was reappearing. 

Instead, he was in for a surprise that sent him on a harrowing journey in and out of hospitals for about a week until he finally landed at Hackensack University Medical Center. There, he received an emergency operation to correct a life-threatening heart condition.

“What triggered this whole chain of events was when I was sitting at my desk, working from home, and the back pain came back but quickly turned into very intense chest pain,” says Bonit. “At that point, I called 911.”

Diagnosis at Long Last

When Bonit went to a local emergency room, doctors ruled out heart attack but confirmed elevated blood pressure. After a series of tests and a chest x-ray that seemed to show that he was fine, Bonit was sent back home. 

His primary care provider prescribed muscle relaxers, and over the next couple days, things seemed to return to normal until the pain came back without warning. “It felt like someone stabbed me through the back and chest with a molten hot blade,” Bonit says. After a hospital visit where his symptoms were attributed to age, he spent the next few days at home in excruciating pain. Fortunately, he eventually wound up at Palisades Medical Center, where family medicine specialist Samir Amin, M.D., diagnosed him with an aortic dissection.

“Dissection occurs when there is an injury or defect in the inner lining of the aorta and blood passes through that injury, pushing the layers of the walls of the aorta apart,” says Arthur Ng, M.D., cardiac surgeon at Hackensack, who successfully treated Bonit for the aortic dissection. “When that happens, there can be a number of complications. In Bonit’s case, the risk of dying was about 80 percent within one to two weeks of presentation; Bonit had been experiencing the pain for about a week when diagnosed.”

Immediately after diagnosis at Palisades, Bonit was rushed to Hackensack where Dr. Ng and Michael Wilderman, M.D., chief of Endovascular Surgery at Hackensack, performed a series of procedures to fix his dissection, which extended from his aortic root through his abdomen. 

Multidisciplinary, Compassionate Care

Throughout the process, Bonit appreciated the care he received from his doctors and nurses. “It was the small moments of compassion that I got from so many different people who were part of my care team that I think made such a big difference,” he says. 

He recalls a touching experience with a night nurse who cared for him. “My wife and dad could be with me during the day, but the nights were when I really came to terms with what was happening,” Bonit says. “I needed help with the most basic of things, which really got to me. On the second or third night, I broke down and cried. My night nurse stepped in and talked me through it. He said, ‘I know this is scary and you’re in pain. I’m not going to lie: It’s not going to be easy, but you have to keep at it and we’ll help you get better.’ That interaction—kind of like a dose of truth—really stood out because my outlook and attitude changed.”

Dr. Wilderman attributes Bonit’s positive experience to the outstanding collaboration between doctors and team members at Hackensack and their dedication to providing excellent care.

“We have an unbelievable multidisciplinary team,” says Dr. Wilderman. “Between our vascular and endovascular surgeons, cardiac surgeons and support teams, whenever there is a complicated case, we work together. Our feeling is every discipline brings a different level of expertise. Being able to put our heads together is one reason our results are so good.”

In Bonit’s case, this was true. Although he is still recovering from the aortic dissection and the following surgeries, and will need lifelong monitoring, he continues to make strides in his recovery.

“It’s a miracle I’m still alive, and I feel extremely blessed that I’m surrounded by an amazing family,” Bonit says. With the support of the amazing team at Hackensack and my family, I’m looking forward to getting back to the things we love doing like traveling and Boy Scouts with my boys.”

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The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.

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