"If I can help make things better for others, I'm all for it. The research will help someone, if not me." - Joe Hutton
Many years have passed since Joe Hutton first studied medicine and became convinced of the benefits of medical research. However, in spite of his experience as an acting health services administrator in the Federal Bureau of Prisons, he could not have envisioned the intersection of his personal health with his contributions to the body of research.
In 2013 when Geisinger was looking for candidates to join a new drug trial aimed at patients with a high risk for vascular disease, Joe was asked to participate because of his history of high cholesterol and a prior heart attack followed by balloon angioplasty. He had also been involved in an endocrinology study related to diabetes a few years earlier.
Joe agreed to help and eagerly arranged for his screening at Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, which included a physical examination and check of vital signs. When listening to his carotid artery, the nurse practitioner said, "Your carotid sounds are not good. I'll be right back. I need to talk with your doctor." From that discussion, a carotid duplex - an ultrasound that uses sound waves to take images of the blood vessels - was scheduled for the next day. Joe remembers thinking, "This is no big deal. It's just standard procedure - a precaution - and most tests turn out negative."
However, once again, the sonographer saw something she didn't like. "Dr. Gray was soon explaining that my left carotid artery was 70 - 99% blocked and it needed immediate attention, so I called and asked my wife, June, to drive to Danville," Joe remembers. "Together, we learned more about the needed procedure. A few days later, a stent was inserted to open up my artery and prevent a highly-probable stroke. I was told it could have happened at any time, without any warning. I had no symptoms and no idea my artery was blocked so significantly," said Joe.
Today the Hutton's are grateful to everyone who cared for them. Joe explains, "Dr. John Lawrence Gray, my vascular surgeon, was fantastic. He was very personable and took the time to provide thoughtful responses to our questions. He said it is quite rare for a blockage to be detected simply from listening to the sounds. So we are forever thankful to Cynthia Gallagher, CRNP, for being so attentive and well-trained."
Now both retired, Joe and June enjoy spending time with their children and grandchildren who live nearby. Joe summarizes his experience saying," Because of my participation in Geisinger's research program, I'm thankful that I've been able to improve future health and wellness for many others, but also grateful for the discovery that may have saved my life."