A Life-Saving Surgery

Heart Patient Story

A Heart and Vascular Center Patient Shares their Experience

Hypolito (Paul) Ferreira Jr. is a 77-year-old Vietnam War veteran who is enjoying the best years of his retirement in Rhode Island. Five years ago, he was diagnosed with an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) – an enlargement of the aorta, which supplies blood from the heart to the rest of the body. After continual monitoring and follow-ups, Mr. Ferreira needed lifesaving surgery and was referred in December 2021 to Dr. Richard Pin, Southcoast Health’s Chief of Vascular Surgery, for a percutaneous (through a small hole rather than large incision) repair of his AAA.

“I served in Vietnam when I was 23”, said Ferreira. “I’m lucky to be alive! I didn’t think I’d reach 60, and now I am celebrating my 77th birthday.” 

The Team You Need – Preparing for a Heart Procedure

Given his age, Mr. Ferreira was not entirely at ease going into surgery. His main concern was leaving his wife alone if something were to go wrong. Easing his nerves, his daughter Renee DaCosta, a nurse practitioner at Southcoast Health, was confident he would receive exceptional care when she introduced him to the medical team responsible for his surgery and recovery.

“As providers we follow standards of care for all our patients, and I expected the same for my dad. I knew that he would receive that at Southcoast”, said DaCosta. “But as a daughter and a provider, I couldn’t help but think “what if”. I thought of everything that could possibly go wrong. I knew in my head that everything was going to be fine… Dr. Pin is an excellent surgeon, and the nursing staff is great.”

The high quality of the care he received both pre- and post-surgery made all the difference, according to Mr. Ferreira. He recalls the friendly staff at Charlton Memorial Hospital the day of his surgery, joking with him and helping him feel at ease while in recovery. “Dr. Pin explained everything clearly. He is amazing,” he says.

The Joys of Recovery at Home

After his procedure, Mr. Ferreira was happy to return in better health to his retirement at home with his wife. These days, he spends his time checking on a few properties he owns around his hometown and keeping up with the chores he jokingly says are orchestrated by his wife to keep him busy. His daughter Renee also feels the relief of his recovery.

“As your parents age you expect illnesses. When you are a daughter who is also a nurse practitioner, you are challenged with guiding your family’s care. My dad has needed multiple procedures in recent years including the repair of his AAA – and all by Southcoast providers. I am so pleased with all of his care.”

Now Mr. Ferreira continues to follow up with Dr. Pin and takes the necessary steps to keep his health on track. He looks forward to his medical visits.

The Importance of Health Screenings

Even though Mr. Ferreira does not have a family history of heart disease, he encourages everyone to learn their family health history and always make time for health screenings.

The primary symptoms of an enlarging aortic aneurysm include pain in the chest, abdomen, or lower back, and a pulsing sensation in the belly. If you have questions regarding your cardiovascular health, please contact our Heart & Vascular Center at Southcoast Health.