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For Immediate Release:
June 05, 2017
Media Contact:
Tania Leets
tania.leets@jhsmiami.org
786-546-2581
Kai Hill
khill@med.miami.edu
305-243-3249

UHEALTH NEUROSURGEON BYPASSES CEREBRAL BLOOD FLOW OF 28-YEAR-OLD SPECIAL OPS AIR FORCE TRAINEE TO PREVENT STROKE AND CURE RARE BRAIN DISEASE

University of Miami Health System neurosurgeon Jacques J. Morcos, MD, has solved the puzzling symptoms of 28–year-old Paul Casas. Diagnosed with Moyamoya disease, a progressive condition constricting cerebral blood flow, Morcos performed a double-barrel STA-MCA bypass at Jackson Memorial Hospital. Four days later, Casas was discharged from the hospital, cured.

Casas first became aware of the symptoms last year during special-ops military training in San Antonio, Texas. His left arm would often go numb, his memory began deteriorating, he suffered frequent headaches and studying became more challenging. However, the married father of two daughters dismissed the symptoms, attributing them to the intensity of the exercises in training. When his headaches became a daily thing, he checked into the military hospital on base.

In April 2017, MRI and CT scans of his brain led doctors to diagnose Casas with Moyamoya disease on the right side of his brain. Moyamoya is a rare type of stroke disorder that causes the carotid artery and the arteries inside the brain to slowly close off, giving young patients repeated strokes and sometimes bleeding in the brain.

“I was discouraged with the news because I was so close to finishing my training,” said Casas. “But ultimately my health came first, because I had to be there for my daughters, wife and family.”

Casas sought a solution, but says that instead he found a lack of knowledge and resources to cure Moyamoya. His wife, Stephanie Casas, left her Miami Lakes home to help her husband consult with universities and hospitals across the nation. Many advised them to just “wait it out,” but they didn’t want to take the risk that Casas’ condition would worsen, causing a stroke or hemorrhage.

“A friend of mine told me about an experienced neurosurgeon,” said Stephanie. “As soon as the military gave Paul permission to leave, we drove from San Antonio to Miami.”

Dr. Morcos, director of cerebrovascular surgery and skull base tumor surgery at the University of Miami Health System, was willing to take on Casas’ case.

“The best approach in Paul’s case was to perform a double-barrel STA-MCA bypass that would essentially give him a new artery to supply blood flow to the right side of his brain,” Dr. Morcos said.

Superficial temporal artery to middle cerebral artery (STA-MCA) bypass is typically used to treat complex aneurysms, stroke, Moyamoya and other complex brain tumors. The delicate surgery uses suture five times thinner than a human hair.

The four-hour surgery took place on Wednesday, May 24.

“When I finally saw Paul, he was bandaged and I was scared,” said Stephanie. “But when he saw me, the first thing he asked was if I already had lunch, and I knew then that everything was going to be alright.”

Casas’ symptoms immediately disappeared, and he was able to go home four days after surgery.

“His thinking and memory immediately became much clearer,” said Dr. Morcos. “He even surprised his wife by remembering things he would normally forget like his daughters’ birthdays.”

The family is thankful for the attention of the neurosurgery team and the ER and ICU teams at Jackson Memorial Hospital for their nurturing support and care during this challenging time.

“I never felt like I was missing out on life’s little things until this diagnosis,” said Casas. “I am thankful I am able to spend lost time with my family and be healthy again.”

Casas will share his story during a news conference Tuesday, June 6, 2017.

Who:

Paul Casas, patient
Stephanie Casas, patient’s wife
Jacques J. Morcos, MD, UHealth neurosurgeon
Iahn Cajigas, MD, PhD, neurosurgery resident

What:

UHealth physician will discuss Paul’s surgery and progress. Paul and wife will speak about their experience.

When: June 06, 2017, 10:00 a.m.
Where:

Jackson Memorial Hospital
Ira Clark Diagnostic Treatment Center, Room 259
In the corner of N.W. 12th Avenue and 19th Street
Miami, FL 33136

Editor's Note:

Media can park in front of the Clark DTC.
Stephanie Casas and Iahn Cajigas are available for Spanish interviews.

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Jackson Health System
1611 N.W. 12th Avenue Miami, FL 33136