Patient Comes From New Zealand for Procedures to Boost Blood Flow in Legs
In some ways, Simon Willis Webb is a typical patient of Dr. Sean Janzer: he sought treatment for painful blocked arteries in his legs that forced him to curtail his activities.
In some ways, though, Webb is anything but typical: he came from New Zealand to see Dr. Janzer, an interventional cardiologist at Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia.
Webb is a successful entrepreneur in his 60s who lives in the North Island of New Zealand, in Hamilton, and loves spending time outdoors. But he was struggling to ski, bike and hike because the major arteries in both of his legs were clogged.
Peripheral artery disease is a progressive disease that is the result of plaque buildup in the arteries that supply blood to the limbs. It affects up to 8.5 million people in the United States alone.
In New Zealand, Webb had undergone angioplasty, in which balloons were used to open his femoral arteries, the main vessels that supply blood to the legs. But that procedure was unsuccessful.
He continued to exercise to help develop peripheral blood vessels in his legs to improve circulation. “I worked very hard at keeping my legs fit and strong,” he says. “I did this by walking every day as well as riding my bike and skiing as often as possible. But these activities with blocked arteries took a lot of effort and a certain amount of suffering.”
One day, while Webb was searching the internet for a better solution to his health problem, he discovered a technique called the Avinger Pantheris Lumivascular Atherectomy. This form of atherectomy, in which a catheter with a sharp blade is used to remove plaque from a blood vessel, wasn’t available in New Zealand. The procedure allows the surgeon to see inside the artery through a camera, so that the extraction of the plaque can be more precise.
Webb eventually found a video of Dr. Janzer performing the procedure. “I already liked the sound of Dr. Janzer and respected his skill and abilities from his video presentation,” he says. “After checking his profile on several sites, I could see that he was greatly respected by his peers and his patients alike.”
Dr. Janzer has been the primary investigator on research projects of the devices and trains other physicians on how to use them. When Webb contacted him and sent diagnostic studies of his legs, Dr. Janzer gave him hope. “I said I could do something,” Webb says.
Webb flew to the United States in November in the company of his son to undergo the first procedure on his left leg. The improvement was immediate. “I now have a strong pulse in my foot, which could not be felt prior to surgery,” he said at the time. “My left leg is way better than it was.”
Webb and his son then flew to Florida to go sightseeing. It was his first trip to the United States for medical reasons, but his third as a tourist. “We loved Miami and its sunshine,” he says, “but we both believe Philadelphia has way more character and genuineness. We love its history and friendly people.”
Then Webb returned to Einstein for the procedure on his right leg on Dec. 5 and soon returned home. “His second procedure went well,” Dr. Janzer says. The doctor and the patient have become friends, and Dr. Janzer is planning to visit Webb in New Zealand in the next year.
“I wondered at times if I should be doing this,” Webb says of his trip across the ocean for treatment at Einstein. “But I just love to be physical and believed that improvement would be worth it. The surgeries have definitely given me a better quality of life and made me feel happier about my life.
“I cannot speak highly enough of the people at Einstein,” he says. “They have welcomed me with open arms and made sure that my every comfort and need has been met. They are extremely professional, and I would recommend them to anyone who asked.”
Learn more about Einstein heart and vascular services.