Vascular Surgeon Provides Long-term Solution, Peace of Mind for Fort Smith Family

By Katrina Dupins

After her experience as a patient at the UAMS Medical Center, Mia Nelson decided the UAMS College of Nursing would be her number one choice for nursing school. She feels a connection to the campus and plans to apply this spring in hopes of starting in the fall.

Three years ago, Mia had surgery in St. Louis to fix a narrowing in her left iliac vein, a vein in the pelvis.

“At some point, they went through a small artery to access that vein,” Richard Nelson said. “When they did that, it caused a connection that never closed.”

They didn’t know it at the time, but that connection, or fistula, was between the artery and vein behind her knee.

Late last year during a follow-up appointment to make sure there were no blood clots, an examiner noticed there was an aneurysm (enlarged artery) that formed from the fistula. It had been slowly growing for the past three years.

It wasn’t painful, but it was dangerous. Richard and Natalie Nelson began consulting with physicians to figure out the best approach to fix their daughter’s vascular problem.

“We talked to several cardiovascular surgeons and to our nephew who is an anesthesiology resident at UAMS. Dr. Moursi’s name kept coming up as the go-to guy in Arkansas,” Richard Nelson said. “Many of the options we heard did not seem like they would be a good option for our daughter. A stent, for example, would have been a temporary fix, requiring another surgery in the future.”

Mohammed M. Moursi, M.D.

Mohammed M. Moursi, M.D. is the UAMS Chief of Vascular Surgery.

Mohammed Moursi, M.D., is the chief of Vascular Surgery in the UAMS Department of Surgery who, after studying Nelson’s imaging carefully, decided to do an open operation.

“We made an incision behind the knee and dissected out the artery and the vein,” Moursi said. “We found the connection and tied it off. Then I eliminated the aneurysm.”

The Nelsons felt confident in Moursi’s plan. They scheduled surgery for Sept. 9, 2020, a time during which there were visitor limitations because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the Nelsons did not like the idea of leaving their daughter alone, the couple says the surgical team was reassuring and made them feel as though they were there.

“Dr. Moursi called us several times,” she said. “The residents and the entire staff were phenomenal. They went above and beyond to let us know our daughter was in good hands. It was a good experience considering we could not be there.”

Six weeks after surgery, the Nelsons decided to check Moursi’s work for themselves.

“As a radiologist, I have access to imaging, so we did an ultrasound to make sure everything was good,” Richard Nelson said. “It was unbelievable. I couldn’t tell anything had been done. It looked really good.”

Mia Nelson and her parents

Mia Nelson with her parents, Natalie Nelson and Richard Nelson, M.D., and Gracie.Bryan Clifton

“Sometimes having more knowledge can be overwhelming,” Natalie Nelson said. “Because you know what all the procedure entails, and it’s your child. But when you do find the right person, it gives you peace. And the imaging proved that.”

Mia Nelson has recovered well. She has not yet been cleared for exercise or heavy lifting, but she is back to perfect health otherwise. The surgery and hospital stay has been an exercise in empathy for her aspirations in becoming a nurse.

“I feel like this will help me better relate to my future patients,” said Mia “I have a deeper understand that will help me be the best nurse I can be.”