Doug’s Story


I began to experience pain radiating from my stomach to lower back. My wife Norma called 911 and when emergency medical services (EMS) arrived, I almost fainted. The EMS team noticed my complexion was a yellow and greenish color. My body was in a cold sweat. I was rushed to Delray Medical Center. Upon my arrival, the medical staff wasted no time in evaluating me.

The evaluation revealed my blood pressure was below normal. I had a hemoglobin level of five, which is extremely low and can result in heart failure or death. I was having trouble breathing and pain radiated from my back to my stomach. It seemed like there were 20 people in my emergency room and the crash cart, wheeled in on standby. The CT scan revealed a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm.

The medical staff at Delray Medical Center called Dr. Joseph Ricotta in to provide care. Dr. Ricotta performed a percutaneous endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR) to treat my ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm (known as AAA or triple A) and save my life. Amazingly, Dr. Ricotta performed the procedure while I was awake helping him to evaluate my condition in real time while using imaging during surgery to repair the aneurysm. Dr. Ricotta performed the procedure in less than 45-minutes via two small punctures in my femoral arteries.

I did not meet or know him before surgery. After the procedure, Dr. Ricotta took the time to inform Norma and our family about my status prior to repairing the aneurysm and the outcome immediately thereafter. His bedside manner was incredible. Dr. Ricotta happened to be with Daniel Listi, CEO of Delray Medical Center when called in to my case.

“What a delightful, charming man Daniel Listi is,” said Norma Gettel. “As soon as they took Doug out of the emergency room he was in, Daniel was waiting around to see if I was OK. Daniel said, ‘I am going to take you to meet up with your husband before he goes in to surgery.’ Daniel stayed through the operation and came in with Dr. Ricotta afterward to give us the great news Doug’s aneurysm repair went well and that he was on the road to recovery.”

“That’s the second time Delray Medical Center has saved someone that I love!” said Norma Gettel.

I was 88-years-old when I had this ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm repaired by Dr. Ricotta. Within 24-hours, I was out of the hospital. Triple A, in and out in 24! I had an abdominal aortic aneurysm and leak in my artery treated in 2005, and Dr. Ricotta repaired the aneurysm and leak in the artery, took out the old stents and put in new stents. Now, my hemoglobin is up to 11.2 and continues to rise. I am eating lots of liver and spinach, helping to boost hemoglobin levels and my primary care doctor prescribed iron pills, which also helps to get me to a healthy hemoglobin reading. Normal hemoglobin readings for males range from about 13 to 17 grams per deciliter.

In addition, I had a problem due to the leak in my artery, in 2005, and when I walked, it would start hurting. Dr. Ricotta said he repaired that and that it was all taken care of and I should not have that problem anymore. I look forward to walking without pain.

I am now 89-years-old and split time between Naples and Harbor Springs, MI. I look forward to getting back to travelling and playing golf. In April, we are going on a cruise to Europe mainly France and Spain. My oldest brother was in the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. One of the excursions is to go to Normandy and go to the cemetery. I look forward to healthy living and thank Dr. Ricotta and the Delray Medical Center vascular surgery team for their care and expertise, and in saving my life.