Wellington Dunn's Story

Even at age 70, Wellington Dunn showed no signs of slowing down.  He stays active and fit by tending to his goats and cattle and tilling his own soil for farm fresh vegetables. However, not all the fresh air and exercise were able to prevent a brain aneurysm from threatening his life.

When Dunn experienced a “terrible, severe, pounding headache,” his wife rushed him to the nearest hospital. The physicians discovered how serious Wellington’s condition was and they sent him to Bronson for the expertise that would save his life.

Bronson Methodist Hospital ranks among the nation’s 100 top hospitals, and are the region’s preferred hospital for head injury and stroke. “They said Bronson was the place to be and that works for me,” recalls Dunn. He was immediately greeted by Bronson’s team of specialists, who worked quickly and collectively to give him the best care possible.

All ruptured brain aneurysms require a team approach for the successful treatment and recovery of this life threatening disease. The first step was to assess the exact location of Dunn’s aneurysm with state-of-the-art imaging technology. The team decided that a newer, minimally invasive method, called coiling, would be the safest option.

Jeffrey Miller, MD, performed Dunn’s procedure. As a trained neurointerventional surgeon, Dr. Miller specializes in diagnosing and treating cerebrovascular disease. His minimally invasive surgical technique has had remarkable patient outcomes. The technique does not require opening a patient’s skull or exposing their spinal column. Patients recover at rapid speeds and the tiny incisions left behind are often no bigger than a nickel.

Through his sleep deprivation and terrible pain, the staff at Bronson brought Dunn comfort. “The nurses were so caring, wonderful and patient with me, even though I wasn’t my usual self. When my wife and family came to see me, the staff was right there for everything we needed.”

Dunn’s condition was unusual, due to the small size of his ruptured aneurysm. “It measured just 2mm,” recalls Dr. Miller. “When they are this small, finding and repairing them without re-rupture during surgery (which carries greater than 90% mortality) is extremely challenging. The average aneurysm I treat is a minimum four-to-five times bigger than this, but the small size doesn’t make it any less lethal.”

Dr. Miller successfully repaired the tiny aneurysm, but Dunn was not totally out of the woods. After this type of procedure, a patient’s brain can react poorly, leading to life threatening strokes and other complications. An experienced team of neuro critical care physicians and nurses are vital to an excellent recovery. After ten days of care and monitoring, they nurtured Dunn back to his normal neurological state.

In the past, most people didn’t survive what Dunn went through. Thanks to newer technology and improved surgical techniques, he is happily back on his farm. He periodically returns to Bronson for follow up monitoring and Dr. Miller considers this the most important aspect of his care.

He tells his patients, “You can’t control having an aneurysm, but with the help of your primary care doctor, you can control your blood pressure, smoking and cholesterol – the top three risk factors for intracranial aneurysms.” He also recommends screening family members of those who have ruptured aneurysms. “There is a proven genetic component to brain aneurysms, and they are much less lethal and easier to treat before they rupture.”

Dunn says he experienced “miracle after miracle” at Bronson. “I’m lucky to be alive,” he exclaimed. “I would never wish this on anybody, but I couldn’t have been at a better place to be treated for what happened to me.”  




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