As a fit and healthy 18-year-old Dominic Mazzeo paid little attention when he began experiencing pain in his stomach, in hindsight he wishes he had.
His GP initially thought it was a simple case of constipation, but as Dominic would soon discover, the truth was a lot worse.
“I took laxatives for a few months and then in March 1997 I was at a friend’s wedding, having the time of my life and dancing when all of a sudden I passed out and ended up on the floor.
“After that I started experience what I thought were really bad cramps in my legs, but I was at my aunt’s restaurant a few days later when my legs just stopped working and I started vomiting blood.”
Dominic was transferred to the Alfred where doctors discovered a total occlusion of the inferior vena cava – a clot that led to a host of other issues.
“On top of that the deep veins in both legs were impacted and I had two pulmonary embolisms (blood clot in the lungs) while in hospital.
“In total I was an inpatient at the Alfred for about 18 months.”
“When it finally looked like I was on the mend I developed Osteoporosis and ended up fracturing my back in seven places.”
So dire was his situation that Dominic’s family was told on more than one occasion that he might not make it through another night.
But thanks to the specialists at the Alfred, Dominic has made it through many nights and achieved a number of life goals, including climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and completing to Kokoda Trek.
While painful to re-live, Dominic shared his experience to coincide with World Thrombosis Day in the hope it can serve as a warning to others.
Alfred Health senior pharmacist Hadley Bortz said awareness would go a long way to lessening the impact of a condition that kills thousands of people each year.
“People are quite aware of the dangers of heart attacks and many of us know the warning signs and alter our lifestyle and diets accordingly,” he said.
“It’s no different for thrombosis – the more people aware of it, the better because a delay in seeking medical attention can end up in more life-threatening situations.”