Melissa Tells Her Story of Aneurysm Survival

One day when Melissa was warming up to exercise, she suddenly felt disoriented. When she still felt strange the next day, she went to the hospital.

It was the last thing she ever expected to hear: An aneurysm had ruptured in her brain.

An aneurysm is a spot where the walls of a blood vessel are thin and balloon outward. Sometimes they burst, like Melissa’s did. These are life-threatening emergencies. Melissa was immediately taken into surgery, where the surgeon inserted a tiny metal coil through her blood vessels into the spot that had ruptured. This saved her life.

But some years later, at a routine checkup, her doctor found that the spot where the aneurysm had ruptured was beginning to open up again. Melissa’s doctor told her she would need a type of surgery called “clipping.” This meant that a surgeon would have to open her skull and use a tiny metal clip to close off the aneurysm.

She spoke with a couple of surgeons to find the right one to do her surgery, and she quickly decided on Dr. Robert Solomon, Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery here at Columbia University Medical Center/NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.

“He was more experienced. I loved what I heard, and he just felt comfortable. I just knew it was right to go with Dr. Solomon,” she says.

“Obviously, when you hear that you need to have brain surgery and it’s a serious procedure, you’re very nervous,” she says. “But Dr. Solomon made me feel very confident that everything would be fine, and that he could do it.”


Melissa said that Dr. Solomon was able to place the clip on her aneurysm perfectly. Then her surgery took an unusual turn. Dr. Solomon noticed another problem: The coils that had been previously placed in her artery were protruding through the vessel wall and interfering with other blood vessels.

Dr. Solomon had to remove the coils carefully, making sure no other blood vessels were damaged. “Dr. Solomon’s actual words were that it was a ‘hair-raising hour’ of removing the coils,” Melissa says.

But remove them he did, and Melissa was up and walking around the day after her surgery. Today she is thankful to be back to her normal life, and to be here for her family.

“Dr. Solomon and his staff took amazing care of me,” she says. “They explained everything along the way, every step. I’m very lucky, and I’m very lucky to have met Dr. Solomon. It’s a miracle, actually.”