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Jim Schintz is thankful he got a second opinion at Geisinger.

For Jim Schintz, it was just another routine checkup. Everything changed when he complained about urinating often at night and his family doctor ordered an ultrasound. That’s when the 64-year-old insurance salesman from Emmaus with a history of heart disease learned he was carrying around a potential time bomb.

Mr. Schintz’s ultrasound results revealed an abdominal aortic aneurysm — a swelling or bulging in the lower part of the major vessel that delivers blood to his body. The tests also showed two more aneurysms in the walls of a group of arteries in Mr. Schintz’s pelvis. Aneurysms typically don’t have symptoms, but they could cause life-threatening bleeding if they were to rupture.

“Aneurysmal disease is a silent killer,” says Evan Ryer, MD, a vascular surgeon at Geisinger. “It’s the 13th leading cause of death in men over age 65, and most people don’t know they have it. So Jim was very lucky that his were identified before they ruptured.”

An older man in a Hawaiin shirt relaxes in his backyard.

Deciding on a different approach

A specialist in Allentown recommended three separate stenting procedures, one for each aneurysm. But Mr. Schintz wanted to avoid that, if possible.

He decided the nearly two-hour drive to Geisinger for a second opinion was worth it. He didn’t have that “warm, fuzzy feeling” about the provider in Allentown, and he liked the high level of coordination and communication at Geisinger. Mr. Schintz did his research and felt Geisinger was the right choice.

A man is preparing to grill outside.

Because of the multiple aneurysms, the surgery was complex, but Geisinger routinely treats such tricky vascular cases safely and effectively.

“We see a lot of patients who are denied care elsewhere because they’re deemed too complex,” says Dr. Ryer. “But this is a big part of what we do here at Geisinger. We perform several of these operations per week. We pride ourselves on being up to date with the newest technology and providing world-class care to people who live in central Pennsylvania.”

Successful surgery and great care

Mr. Schintz’s surgery was a success and he was back home the next day. He jokes he was happy to cut the lawn for the first time in months. And he’s thankful Geisinger took away his excuse not to.

He says he might have gone to Philadelphia or Cleveland for the surgery — Philadelphia is closer to his home — but he’s happy he came to Geisinger.

“The whole operation from start to finish, I was impressed by it,” Mr. Schintz says. “My wife was impressed by it, too. The guys at Geisinger were on top of what I was dealing with. There was such a comfort level, and I didn’t have to go to a major metropolitan area for top-notch care. It was here in my own backyard.”

Watch Jim Schintz’s story in his own words.

This story originally appeared in the summer issue of PA Health, our quarterly full-color magazine filled with wellness tips, inspiring stories and more.

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