Experimental Device Offers Lifesaving Treatment

Aneurysm experts save life of Shannon Chance, husband and father

The Chance familyIn sports, he roots for the University of Missouri Tigers, but when it comes to hospitals, Shannon Chance is a fan of The University of Kansas Health System all the way.

The health system's neurosciences experts gave Shannon reason to cheer in August 2016, when a global team banded together to provide experimental treatment that was the only chance to save Shannon's life.

Shannon, husband to Lindsay and father to Levi, Jonah and Logan, was a 42-year-old senior draftsman in an engineering department. He loved football and PlayStation games – both pastimes he enjoyed with his boys. But one May afternoon, Shannon abruptly stopped their play and told their sons, "Go get your mother."

"Something in my voice was different, something that made them run for her without asking questions," Shannon recalls. When Lindsay got to him, he was having trouble speaking and couldn't walk normally. They quickly headed for their local emergency department, where Shannon was evaluated and then transferred to The University of Kansas Health System. There, scans revealed a giant wide-neck aneurysm in Shannon's brain. He'd had an aneurysm repaired in 1993 at another hospital, but now, decades later, it had recurred. And this time, it was so large and so complex, it couldn't be repaired by traditional surgery.

"That was a scary and terrible time," Lindsay says. "The nurses were extremely amazing during Shannon's ICU stay. They were so supportive, and they saved my sanity."

A pioneering approach

Then came a ray of hope. As the region's premier academic medical center, the health system leads and participates in numerous innovative clinical trials through its affiliation with the University of Kansas Medical Center. Endovascular neurosurgeon Koji Ebersole, MD, knew of a trial device that might help Shannon.

Enrollment for the trial had closed. But Dr. Ebersole was determined to find a way to use the potentially lifesaving device. He prepared an expanded-access application to obtain permission from the Food and Drug Administration to use the Surpass flow diverter – a stent used to direct blood flow away from an aneurysm to prevent rupture – in Shannon's care.

"Traditional surgery was inconceivable, but we couldn't let it rest there," Dr. Ebersole says. "The new device was quite compelling. We reached out to colleagues across the country, many of the field's best minds, and together agreed that this was the best approach."

The application process was extensive – "The team worked so hard for us," Lindsay remembers – but it was successful. After the 4-month applications and review process, the FDA approved the special-use scenario. The device, made in Ireland, was flown to Kansas, and its inventor attended the procedure personally.

"The device worked with flying colors," Dr. Ebersole says. "This was two years ago, and the device is now in the market and generally available. This kind of collaboration is characteristic of an academic medical center. It brings options to patients who might otherwise have none, and the experience and results expand aneurysm treatment options for future patients."

A new chapter

The Surpass flow diverter gave Shannon a new lease on life.

"It wasn't an easy decision, but it really was the only choice we had," Lindsay says. "Without the device, Shannon's aneurysm could burst at any moment. We had to give it a shot. Dr. Ebersole is one of the most intelligent and compassionate people I have ever known. He spent so much time talking with us, and it was clear he was taking the situation as seriously as we were."

The report after the surgery validated the decision the Chances and Shannon's care team made.

"Dr. Ebersole came out to speak to my wife and told her the aneurysm had grown even larger as we'd waited for approval to use the device," Shannon says. "We are so glad we made that decision."

While the life-threatening aneurysm is no longer a concern for Shannon, it has had lasting effects. He may have experienced one or more strokes before the aneurysm could be addressed. He now has seizures, treated by health system epileptologist Patrick Landazuri, MD, a collaborator on Shannon's interdisciplinary care team, which ensures Shannon receives the most comprehensive, effective care.

Shannon remains on disability, unable to work as a draftsman. Still, he and his family are beyond thankful for the life they have.

"I freak out at the smallest things, like mild headaches, but overall, I feel pretty good," Shannon says. "I'm home with our sons a lot more than I used to be. They like my dinners better than their mom's now."

"The small things are big things now," Lindsay adds, "like movie nights and popcorn. We are so grateful to the team at the health system and think Dr. Ebersole is a superstar."