Rohan Pai, 7th grade, Pinckneyville Middle School, Peachtree Corners, Georgia.

Introduction:

Everybody gets injured once in a while during life. Most of the time, the body prevents loss of blood by forming a blood clot. In some cases, the blood clot could be serious and may block the flow of blood in blood vessels. This blood clot is known as a thrombus.

Georgia Thrombosis Forum (GTF, www.gtfonline.net) , an affiliate of North American Thrombosis Forum (NATF, www.natfonline.org), has a mission to increase the awareness of thrombosis in the community.

Not many people are aware of thrombosis, so the objective of GTF and NATF is to raise awareness.

On July 14, 2017, I read in the news, on CNN, about Senator John McCain, who suffered from thrombosis (http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/15/politics/john-mccain-blood-clot/index.html). I therefore decided to conduct research in Senator McCain’s life, and if I could learn anything from his life. The following is a result of my research efforts in this area.

The Life

Senator John McCain (John Sidney McCain III) was born on August 29, 1936. Both Senator McCain’s father and grandfather were four-star Admirals in the U.S. Navy. Senator McCain joined the Naval Academy in June 1954. After graduating from the U.S. Navy in1958, he continued to work in the U. S. Navy until 1981. Senator McCain served in the Vietnam War. During this time, he served as a POI. Senator McCain then decided to join politics, and became an elected official in the U.S. House of Representatives from Arizona in 1982. Later on, he was elected to the United States Senate in 1986. In 2008, he contested the U.S. Presidential election, becoming the Republican Party’s nominee, running with Sarah Palin (the then ex-Governor of the state of Alaska) as the-vice presidential candidate, only to be defeated by the then President Barack Obama.

Achievements

Senator McCain has had several achievements, a few of them are listed here:

  1. Restore diplomatic relations with Vietnam
  2. His belief that the Iraq War should have been fought to a successful conclusion.
  3. Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee
  4. Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee (2015)
  5. The Arizona senator, on Monday October 16, 2017, received the Liberty Medal for his lifetime of service and sacrifice

The condition

By a “stroke” of luck, at a routine annual physical, doctors discovered a blood clot above Senator McCain’s left eye.

It has been reported that Senator McCain typically does not complain about his health issues. However, at this time he reported feeling fatigued. He told his doctor at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona, that at times, he had felt foggy and not as sharp as he typically is. In addition, he had felt periods of intermittent double vision. Due to these symptoms, recommendation for a CT scan was made. When the results came back, Senator McCain was asked to return for an MRI. His neurological exam was normal. The Mayo Clinic doctors diagnosed that he had primary glioblastoma, a rare type of brain tumor. Glioblastoma is a particularly aggressive tumor that forms in the tissue of the brain and spinal cord.

Senator McCain underwent an operation on Friday, July 14, 2017 to get the blood clot removed at Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona. Surgeons opened his skull with an eyebrow incision and successfully removed a 5-cm blood clot, located in or near the left frontal lobes of the brain. His doctors at the Mayo Clinic indicated that the surgery went very well.

His doctors said that they were amazed at how sharp the Senator was when he awoke after surgery. He knew what year it was and started cracking jokes. He also made it clear that he wanted to leave the hospital and get back to work. Showing no signs of cognitive delays, Senator McCain was discharged a few days later and has been recovering well.

The good thing was that the senator showed no neurological problems before or after the operation, said his doctors.

The doctors said that the Senator is very diligent about coming in for scheduled exams and is to be seen every four months for skin checks due to his history of skin cancer.

My efforts

I wrote to Doctor Samuel Goldhaber, MD, president of the North American Thrombosis Forum and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Doctor Goldhaber advised me to write to Senator McCain. At this time, I wrote to Senator McCain inviting him to visit GTF in Atlanta and share a few words with us to see what our organization is all about (after he has fully recovered). I further wrote that Dr. Goldhaber had agreed with me that we should invite him as he is one of the most experienced U.S. senators and having gone through this successfully and talking about it will help raise awareness and more people will notice and take necessary actions for themselves. I wrote that our members would LOVE to meet with him!!

After surgery and his recovery, he went back to serving in the U.S. Senate and voted for the U.S. Health Care Bill, indicating his enormous inner strength and commitment towards his duties and responsibilities.

He is currently undergoing treatment for his brain tumor. Despite this, he continues to work in the U.S. Senate.

The Conclusion

My research indicates several areas.

First, that thrombosis can affect anyone, including celebrities, such as Senator John McCain.

Senator McCain gives a very powerful message that one needs to be strong, both physically and emotionally, and be committed towards one’s duties and responsibilities.

The third message is that if one has a condition, one must follow doctor’s orders very regularly. Do not try to act as your own doctor!

The fourth message for my fellow GTF members is that one should always be on lookout for stories such as that of Senator McCain, so that we could conduct research in different areas of thrombosis.

Acknowledgements

I want to thank my father, Mr. Jagdish Pai and Dr. Atul Laddu for the helpful suggestions given to me during the preparation of this article.

Photo of Senator John McCain

References

  1. Wikipedia
  2. CNN: July 14, 2017: http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/15/politics/john-mccain-blood-clot/index.html