West Omaha woman in clinical trial for pulmonary embolism treatments

The condition affects around one in 1,000 people in the U.S. every year.
A West Omaha woman is part of a clinical trial to examine the best treatment for a pulmonary embolism.
Published: Dec. 30, 2022 at 3:48 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A global clinical trial is underway to examine the best treatment for blood clots in the lungs.

The condition affects around one in 1,000 people in the U.S. every year.

A year ago during the holidays, a west Omaha woman would get tired doing anything in the kitchen. She felt she’d never get off the struggle bus.

“We were just a day short of heading out on a cruise,” Maggie said. “All packed up and ready to go. I sat down to put on my shoes, and when I stood up I couldn’t breathe.”

It was a pulmonary embolism, meaning she had blood clots in an artery to her lungs.

“I could breathe, but I couldn’t get any air.”

Family and friends and her granddaughter know her by another name, but we’ll call her Maggie.

That’s because she’s in the middle of an international clinical trial and the researchers can’t know her real identity.

“When he asked me to be a research subject, I immediately said yes. Because the career I had before, I had done research, and I know how important it was to determine future practices based on scientific data.”

Methodist Health Systems leads all others in the U.S. and Europe when it comes to enrolling patients.

“I’m asked how do you do it? I’d love to say it’s my personality and smile, but it’s the folks in the Midwest. They understand the value of these things,” said Dr. John Park, a vascular surgeon with Methodist Health System.

Park is the lead physician for the trials here.

For decades, patients with a pulmonary embolism were treated one way. Hit the body with massive amounts of blood thinners, but that can lengthen recovery time and even cause internal bleeding.

But in the last decade, Park has sometimes used a different therapy. He goes in with a catheter and targets the clot up close with ultrasound and a clot-dissolving drug.

The analysis I make for patients is a large block of ice on a sidewalk still takes a long time to dissolve, but if you break it into tiny pieces, it’s gone fairly quickly.”

The clinical trial will compare the two treatments, science’s way of determining what’s best for future patients.

“I’m so thankful the blood clot happened before I got on an airplane or cruise ship,” Maggie said.

As for Maggie, she’s planning a make-up cruise with her husband to the Caribbean in February.

As part of the clinical trial, doctors will continue to monitor Maggie with check-ups four times a year. That way researchers have comprehensive data to analyze when it comes to the quality of life issues of the patients.