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Dr. James Stone and Dr. Danielle Stone perform specialized “pulmonary embolism removal” procedure at Harlingen Medical Center  

HARLINGEN, July 2023 –  A Valley patient is grateful to be alive – and to be able to breathe without gasping for air — after undergoing a life-saving pulmonary embolism removal procedure at Harlingen Medical Center.

Dr. James Stone and Dr. Danielle Stone, Cardiologists, performed the highly-specialized procedure — which removes large blood clots which are blocking arteries in the patient’s lungs. These blood clots can stop blood flow to the lungs — making it difficult for the lungs to supply oxygen to the patient’s body.  This places the patient’s life in danger — and requires immediate treatment.

During the minimally-invasive pulmonary embolism removal procedure, cardiologists insert a thin, flexible tube (catheter) through a small incision, and into the blood vessel in the lungs.  The catheter is used to remove or break up the clot, restoring blood flow through the artery.

In the case of the recent patient, the procedure worked so well that the patient immediately felt relief in breathing – while still lying on the procedure table in the cardiac catheterization laboratory at Harlingen Medical Center.

Dr. James Stone - Harlingen Medical CenterThe physicians who performed the specialized procedure are part of an experienced roster of cardiologists with the South Heart Clinic in Harlingen.  A husband-and-wife team, Dr. James Stone and Dr. Danielle Stone traveled to Michigan to receive specialized training in performing the pulmonary embolism removal procedure.

Dr. James Stone said the new procedure is a “game-changer” for patients with blockages in their lungs – in many cases, providing much faster and more effective relief for these patients than the traditional treatment with thrombolytics (medications that dissolve clots) and blood thinners (anticoagulants).

For some patients, relief can’t come fast enough … as they can literally can become out of breath before finishing a short sentence.  In some cases, such patients have trouble getting up to walk to the bathroom.  Other patients are on the verge of having to go on a ventilator for help in breathing.

One reason the pulmonary embolism removal procedure is so effective is because it uses a relatively large catheter, to rapidly suck out clots which are blocking blood flow in the lungs. Dr. Stone said some of these clots can be the size of a large coin, such as a quarter.

“My main concern is that we educate as many people as we can that this new procedure is now available in the Harlingen / Cameron County area,” Dr. Stone said. “For many patients, blood clots are not adequately treated.  This is a life-threatening condition which must be promptly diagnosed and treated.”

“There is substantial data on how amazing this new procedure can be,” Dr. Stone added. “The length-of-stay in the hospital is also less – one to two days – and the outcomes are great, in many cases – often with a dramatic improvement in the quality of life for the patient.”

One of Dr. Stone’s recent patients was very grateful, telling him “Doc, I couldn’t talk … now I can talk.  I couldn’t walk … now I can walk.”

Dr. Danielle Stone - Harlingen Medical CenterBoth Dr. James Stone and Dr. Danielle Stone are fellows of the American College of Cardiology, after completing cardiology fellowships at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston.

In addition, both of the Dr. Stones completed their internal medicine residency at UT-Houston – after graduating from Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara Medical School.

Dr. James Stone, who is from Brownsville, is board certified in cardiovascular disease, internal medicine, and interventional cardiology.  In addition, Dr. Stone has specialized training in high-risk percutaneous coronary intervention and cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Danielle Stone, who is from St. Joseph, Missouri, is board certified in echocardiography, nuclear medicine, cardiovascular disease, cardiac CT and internal medicine.

“Dr. Stone is an awesome doctor,” a recent patient said. “People need to know that this procedure will save your life.”

Harlingen Medical Center was named as one of the top 50 cardiovascular hospitals in the nation by Fortune and IBM Watson Health in 2021 and 2022.

For more information on life-saving care in the Valley, please visit https://harlingenmedicalcenter.com/our-services/cardiovascular/.