Published Monday 8 Jul 2024

From catastrophic injuries to marathon aspirations – read Myles Dyeming’s story

Few stories highlight technology, team work and human resilience coming together as poignantly as that of Myles Dyeming, a telecommunications technician who endured a life-altering accident. We had a chat with Myles, some of his family and Dr Shueh Hao Lim, Interventional Radiologist at Wellington Regional Hospital, about how Myles got back on his feet.

In late October 2023, Myles was performing routine maintenance on a telecommunications pole near Whanganui when he fell 12 meters, leading to catastrophic injuries. He was flown to Wellington Hospital in a very bad state. In theatre, he arrested, his heart stopped at some point and CPR was performed. The fall had caused his inferior vena cava (IVC), the main vein that returns blood to the heart, to tear. This critical vessel was repaired in a complex procedure that included putting Myles on bypass.

The extent of Myles' injuries was staggering with a punctured left lung, injuries to his liver, a damaged pericardium and multiple spinal fractures. Despite the severity of these injuries, he got through his operations and recovery in the hospital began, albeit slowly.

Two weeks into rehabilitation, Myles began experiencing significant leg swelling, prompting further investigation. Scans revealed extensive blood clots in the veins, causing severe pain and hindering his mobility. "By mid-December, nearly six and a half weeks post-accident, the clots were diagnosed as being quite extensive," Shueh said. Traditional treatments had failed to alleviate the clots, necessitating a more innovative approach.

Just before Christmas, Shueh and his team at Wellington Hospital removed the clots using an advanced medical device. The procedure was groundbreaking, involving intricate manoeuvring and precise execution, as well as showcasing the potential of modern medical devices to overcome even the most daunting challenges.

"What has changed now is with the devices we have, we can safely remove all clots, including clots that are slightly older which traditionally wasn’t possible," Shueh said. “In Myles’ case, this involved protecting against any clot migration into the lung through his arm rather than the more conventional neck approach due to the constraints posed by his spinal brace.”

The successful removal of the clots was a pioneering achievement. "We believe it’s one of the first times arm access has been used to deploy the protection device against any unwanted clot migration during the clot removal process. It’s also the first time a clot this old has been successfully taken out in New Zealand using a minimally invasive approach,” Shueh said.

The results were nothing short of miraculous. "The procedure was carried out on December 23rd. On Christmas Day, I did a 7km walk!" Myles said. “The immediate improvement in my condition is testament to the skill of the medical team. Before the procedure, a hundred meters was a challenge. Post-procedure, the difference was night and day.” Myles’ family and friends provided steadfast support throughout his ordeal, ensuring he stuck to his rehabilitation regimen and celebrating every milestone.

The complexity of Myles' case required a /multidisciplinary approach. "There were a lot of people who helped during various stages of the trauma," Shueh said. This team included cardiothoracic surgeons, orthopaedic specialists, vascular surgery and intensive care staff, all working in unison to ensure the best possible outcome for Myles.

One of the key takeaways from Myles' experience is the critical need for awareness about post-traumatic complications like deep vein thrombosis. Myles’ initial treatment plan involved blood thinners, which proved inadequate given the severity of his condition. It was only through a chance conversation with Professor Sean Galvin, another member of the medical team, that Myles was directed to Shueh.

Shueh highlighted the lack of general awareness about such conditions. "If you have a small clot in your thigh or calf, no problem. Take the pills we give you - you'll be fine. But when you have clots that completely block the IVC, then it's more complicated," he said. This understanding of clot-related complications underscores the importance of specialized medical intervention.

Today, Myles is on a steady path to full recovery, working with physiotherapists to regain his strength and mobility. "Once the physio is over, I expect to make a full recovery," he said. He and his daughter even joked they’d run a marathon together. His journey from near-death to walking 7km in a matter of weeks is a powerful testament to the advancements in medical technology and the resilience of the human spirit.

Myles' story is also a call to action for patients and healthcare providers alike. "Talk to the doctors and get the information you need to make the right decision for you," Myles said. “The clear communication and detailed explanations provided by Shueh and his team played a pivotal role in my decision-making process and ultimate recovery.”

“I’m just happy to be here to tell my story. I’m happy that Shueh and his team agreed to do the procedure and now I’ve got my quality of life back, which is so important. If my story helps just one person, then that’s a win.”