Matthew Godfrey of Flat Rock is returning to his position as an assistant coach for the Flat Rock High School boys’ varsity basketball team after undergoing EKOS therapy, the latest minimally invasive treatment offered at Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital to treat life-threatening blood clots in his lungs. Photo courtesy of Henry Ford Health System

New blood clot dissolving treatment works in Downriver man

With a history of blood clots, Matthew Godfrey didn’t waste any time getting to the emergency room at Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital when he awoke one December morning with excruciating pain above his knee.

He previously had been diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis (DVT) on his right leg and immediately knew this latest pain could be deadly serious.

“They got me right in after I told them I was a previous DVT patient,” he said. “Immediately they found that a clot had traveled to my groin area.” 

A CT scan then revealed a pulmonary embolism in both of his lungs. A pulmonary embolism is a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when a clot blocks a lung artery and restricts blood flow to the heart. In many cases, PE is caused by a clot forming in the legs (known as a deep vein thrombosis) and then traveling to the lungs.

Cardiologist Qaiser Shafiq, M.D. told the 50-year-old father of three boys that he needed an immediate procedure. 

“He told me I was in bad shape, and I started to realize how serious this was,” Godfrey said. “At that point, I was kind of in a panic, but Dr. Shafiq was very relaxed and calm. That made me feel better.”

New targeted therapy dissolves clots faster

Godfrey was one of the first patients to undergo EKOS therapy, the latest minimally invasive treatment offered at Henry Ford Wyandotte, after the two massive clots were discovered. 

With the Ekosonic Endovascular System (EKOS), targeted drug therapy and ultrasound are delivered simultaneously through a catheter, which is equipped with ultrasound ports, and inserted into the clot. Ultrasound energy is used to spray the clot-busting medication. The procedure takes about 10 to 15 minutes after which the patient goes to the ICU for six to 10 hours.

The EKOS procedure reduces drug dosage, dissolves clots faster and lowers the risk of bleeding and other complications. 

For patients diagnosed with massive or sub-massive clots in the lung, EKOS has successfully eliminated clots in hours instead of days using less than one-fourth the amount of medication. 

Previously, the only option was to deliver clot-dissolving medication through an IV that not only went to the lungs but also other organs, increasing the risk of bleeding. EKOS delivers targeted therapy to the clots, avoiding other bleeding risks.

“They told me about the new EKOS procedure and I was very glad to be one of the first patients, especially when they said the other option was not as good,” Godfrey said. “I gained a sense of trust through Dr. Shafiq’s calm explanation.”

Minimally invasive treatment lessens recovery time

In less than 30 minutes, Godfrey was out of the catheterization lab and in the ICU where the EKOS catheter broke up the clots in a matter of hours. He was home by mid-afternoon the following day.

“Between the Lord upstairs, the new technology and having the right doctor on call, it put me back to just about 100 percent really quick,” he said. “With more research I did after the fact, I realized I could’ve been in the ICU for a few weeks with a lot more risk if I had it done the old-fashioned way.”

Godfrey also was diagnosed with May-Thurner Syndrome, a rarely diagnosed condition that affects blood flow in two blood vessels going to the legs, making those affected more susceptible to massive clotting. Dr. Shafiq performed a venous thrombectomy to remove clots from Matthew’s knee to his pelvis. A stent also was inserted into a vein in Matthew’s leg to improve blood flow.

He said he’s extremely grateful for the advanced, lifesaving care he received at Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital. “It’s a partnership that I’ll remember forever,” he said. “I couldn’t have had better care. While I was in a bad condition, I would never have wanted it to be done anywhere else. Everyone from the people who gave me the tests to the nurses and doctors could not have been kinder and more compassionate.”

Now he looks forward to returning to his assistant coaching role for the boys’ varsity basketball team at Flat Rock High School.

“My lungs are markedly improved and clear,” he said. “Soon I’ll be able to get off blood thinners and be a normal human being. I’ve had a lot of people tell me that it was meant for me to still be here.”

About Henry Ford Health System

Founded in 1915 by Henry Ford himself, Henry Ford Health System is a non-profit, integrated health system committed to improving people’s lives through excellence in the science and art of healthcare and healing. 

Henry Ford Health System includes Henry Ford Medical Group, with more than 1,900 physicians and researchers practicing in more than 50 specialties at locations throughout Southeast and Central Michigan. 

Acute care hospitals include Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, MI and Henry Ford Allegiance Health in Jackson, MI – both Magnet® hospitals; Henry Ford Macomb Hospital; Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital; and Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital.

The largest of these is Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, a quaternary care research and teaching hospital and Level 1 Trauma Center recognized for clinical excellence in cardiology, cardiovascular surgery, neurology, neurosurgery, and multi-organ transplants. 

The health system also provides comprehensive, best-in-class care for cancer at the Brigitte Harris Cancer Pavilion, and orthopedics and sports medicine at the William Clay Ford Center for Athletic Medicine – both in Detroit.

As one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers, Henry Ford Health System annually trains more than 3,000 medical students, residents, and fellows in more than 50 accredited programs, and has trained nearly 40 percent of the state’s physicians.

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