NATIONAL (NBC/KAIT) -A medical emergency struck a woman in her twenties from Michigan, seemingly out of the blue.
Delaney Tepel thought she pulled a muscle. She went to work one day, and stood up from her desk. Suddenly hearing became difficult and her vision was impaired. Her mother and a friend rushed her to 'Ascension St. John Hospital'.
Doctors quickly determined Tepel had a massive blood clot in her leg. Pieces had broken off, and traveled to her lungs. Cardiologist, Dr. Antonious Attallah diagnosed Tepel with a pulmonary embolism. He said the right side of her heart was under a lot of stress and it was failing.
“I’m like ‘I’m 21 years old," Tepel said. "I have a blood clot that doesn’t make sense’. Like older people have blood clots, I shouldn’t be having a blood clot. He said that if I hadn’t gotten the hospital, at least a half hour later, I would have died.”
Doctors were able to remove the clots in her lungs, but Tepel’s leg was more challenging. There was a large obstruction from a clot. Dr. Attallah turned to a device called the "Clot-Triever'. It was recently approved by the FDA.
“After we’ve located the position of the clot,” Dr. Attallah said. “We actually go and snare it almost um in a very similar fashion like a plumber would snare um a blockage of some sort in a pipe.”
Further testing revealed Tepel was unknowingly at high risk for blood clots. She has a condition called 'May-Thurner Syndrome'. A critical vein and artery are crossed, meaning blood couldn't flow as freely as it should. She also recently returned from a trip to Hawaii. Long flights are a risk factor. She also had a family history of clots.
“My mother and my older brother both have DVT’s," Tepel’s mother Joelle Slaughter said. "Now in hindsight putting it all together it makes sense.”
Tepel needed a stent in her leg to reduce the risk of another blockage.
Now recovered, she wants other young people to know blood clots can happen to anyone.
“I’m still trying to wrap my head around it," Tepel said. "But it’s, like a half an hour isn’t a lot of time. I could have been stuck in traffic for a half an hour and it could heave been the difference between me being here right now.”
Signs of a blood clot in the leg can include swelling, pain, tenderness, or an area that’s warm to the touch.
If the clot breaks up and travels to the lungs, it can cause sudden shortness of breath, chest pain, rapid heart rate, and a cough. This is a medical emergency, and needs an immediate call to 911.