SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - A Scripps Ranch man was running out of options. A huge blood clot would either cost him his leg, or his life. Thankfully, Scripps Health just received a new vacuum that could suck the clot out of his body.
If you were Tai Diep, you'd be smiling too. Two weeks ago, the 62-year-old flew to Atlanta to attend a family member's engagement party, when suddenly His legs began to ache and swell.
"I was scared, yeah," Diep said.
Tai returned from that trip in a wheelchair with a leg that was blowing up like a balloon. The one on the right so big, Diep's kidneys were starting to fail, with emergency amputation a real possibility.
Doctor Jack Yang says this was one of the most extreme blood clots he's ever seen. Thankfully, Scripps Health had just received an angio vac that could suck the problem away.
"I think it was nothing short of extremely lucky. We literally just days before got corporate approval to have this device," Yang said.
One day later, the vacuum was snaked down Diep's neck.
Dr. John Doemeny drew us a diagram that shows how Diep's condition could have killed him.
"If this were to have broken free and gone to the lungs, he wouldn't have been able to oxygenate the blood to his tissues, which could have led to a heart attack or a stroke," Doemeny said.
Back on his feet in just four days, Diep's daughter admits her mother never her told her dad he'd be a blood clot vacuum guinea pig.
"I guess it's not really too surprising, because my mom's just a goof like that," she said.
Diep says he's glad he didn't know, and certainly can't argue with the results.
"It's a miracle… thank god for whole team who work for my leg," Diep said.
Doctors at Scripps Health say this is a good reminder for travelers on long flights to stretch their legs and take short walks up and down the aisle.