December 15, 2015, is a day Reena Bayardo will never forget. Her 15-year-old daughter Lisset called that morning and said she had fallen in the middle of a busy street while walking to school. Lisset told Reena that she had vomited, and Reena could hear Lisset’s speech was slurred. Reena immediately went to the school where the principal and bystanders had already called 911. When she arrived, her daughter was crying and said her head hurt really badly. The signs were all too familiar and Reena knew immediately that Lisset had a ruptured brain aneurysm. When Reena was 16 years old, her mother, who was 36, died from a ruptured aneurysm after five days in a coma.
Lisset was rushed to the hospital and immediately admitted to the trauma unit. She had lost a significant amount of blood and was life-flighted to Cedars Sinai where a CT scan revealed an aneurysm that had ruptured twice – once when she first fell and, after clotting, ruptured a second time while being airlifted from the first hospital. Upon arrival at Cedars Sinai, Lisset immediately underwent a brain aneurysm coiling procedure to stop the rupture.
The procedure to close off the rupture was successful, but Lisset remained in critical condition in ICU for weeks, followed by a long recovery that included several months of intense speech, occupational and physical therapy. Lisset was able to return to school and graduated in May 2018.
“I feel glad to be here today. I am thankful my mother knew the symptoms and acted fast. It’s important to be aware of these signs and symptoms because time is so important,” said Lisset. “You have to know your family history. After learning the statistics of survival, I know I’m blessed, but the road of my recovery is still hard and long. I never imagined experiencing this, but it has also made me so much stronger.”
After Lisset’s recovery, doctors advised that Reena and her other children needed to be screened. The results of the CT scans cleared her and her son, but her other two daughters show areas of concern that require ongoing monitoring.
Reena Bayardo's Survivor Story
(Lisset Bayardo's mother)
Unfortunately, the Bayardo family story does not end here. In May 2016, after getting the “all-clear” in February, Reena experienced a sudden headache accompanied by vomiting. She stayed home from work since she was not feeling well and did not associate the symptoms with a brain aneurysm as she had been cleared in February. When Reena returned to work the next day, she mentioned to her boss that her face was tingling. Her head was still hurting – she knew something was not right and was taken to Cedars Sinai. As it turned out, the reading radiologist in February had missed her aneurysm and it had now ruptured. Fortunately, Reena underwent a successful coiling procedure and has made a near-complete recovery.
“Reducing the time between signs and symptoms and treatment saves lives and improves outcomes,” said Reena. “It’s important to know your family medical history, and if there is a history of brain aneurysm, you need to be screened.” Reena, Lisset and her other daughters will continue to be monitored and undergo scans every few years. If your family has a history of aneurysms, it is imperative for you to be screened when you are in your twenties. Early detection saves lives as most aneurysms can be treated.