UAMS Medcheck: Saving a life by using a thigh vein for a neck artery

Using a vein from your thigh to replace an artery in your neck... almost sounds like something out of a movie... but it happened to a Conway man at UAMS recently. And he says he's alive today because of it.

William Ledbetter recently had surgery to fix blockage in his carotid artery. Three weeks later, something wasn't right.

"I woke up at 3:00am and oh gosh... I don't know how it could have hurt any more," said Ledbetter.

His doctors called Doctor Mohammed Moursi at UAMS.

"He had had some blood escape from inside the artery but it wasn't just flowing everywhere it was contained within his neck which is usually due to infection," said Dr. Moursi.

Ledbetter immediately went into emergency surgery.

"I took a piece of vein from his leg and I replaced his carotid artery with piece of vein from his thigh," said Dr. Moursi.

Ledbetter and his wife of 62 years were in awe at what they consider a life-saving procedure.

"We are so indebted to all of the doctors, all the technicians, wonderful wonderful nurses that have treated him like he was king of the world," said Ledbetter's wife, Clara.

"Dr Moursi must be one of the greatest in the world. I know he saved my life!" said Ledbetter.

Although the near death experience was difficult for the Ledbetter family, they say it's brought them closer than ever.

"When he found out I had been there with my son for several hours and he said Clara, I love you. I love you a thousand times more than I ever did before. So that was almost worth the whole thing!" said Clara while smiling and laughing.

Ledbetter's voice is expected to return and he is expected to make a full recovery.