Climbing high again after aggressive blood clot treatment

Active retirement is an understatement when describing Roger Jebe. At 72, he is an avid rock climber and distance bike rider. He works hard to be physically fit.

So, Jebe was surprised last summer when he was at the top of a 60-foot rock climb and he had problems breathing.

“I thought I was having a heart attack or a stroke,” Jebe said.

He sought care immediately and tests showed his life was in danger.

“My CT scan showed a big blood clot in my heart as the chambers pumped. There were also several blood clots in my legs and lungs,” he added.

The man who could put many men half his age to shame knew his time was short without care to treat the pulmonary embolism and other clots.

“I knew I’d be dead in the next day or so if I didn’t do something,” Jebe said.

Carle interventional radiologist Greg A. Babcock, MD, used a catheter to deliver life-saving treatment.

“I went directly to the embolisms and injected clot-dissolving drugs into blockages. I then installed an IVC filter in the veins below his kidneys to catch any future clots coming from the legs.

“The IVC filter catches the clots before they reach the lungs, heart or brain. It also allows blood to flow around the clot while the body naturally dissolves it,” Dr. Babcock added. “Carle has a dedicated pulmonary embolism response and treatment program that helps save lives. Mr. Jebe did very well. He is physically fit and that helped him pull through.

"We are very pleased with his progress.”

Carle’s neurosurgeons have similar treatment plans to help treat stroke patients.

Jebe says doctors never were able to determine why is got so many blood clots.

“The best guess they have is that I was dehydrated and that caused the clotting,” he said.

Blood clots in the veins or heart are very serious and can be fatal. Dr. Babcock says the symptoms are shortness of breath, swelling in the legs or chest pains with little exertion.

“If you feel those symptoms, get to the emergency room right away,” he advised.

Jebe could tell the difference after the procedure.

“I could breathe better almost right away. I walked out of the hospital. I was able to go on a 6-mile bike ride three weeks later,” he said.

A November scan showed Jebe is clot-free, and he is grateful to continue enjoying retirement and time with his wife, son and three grandchildren. Although he’s back to his favorite activities, he has slowed down a little.

“I’m down to 14 chin-ups. I could do 20 before.”