Life-saving non-profit fundraiser planned Friday

Harold LaCour

Prairieville is home of an outstanding life-saving non-profit organization founded and operated by one woman.

The organization is Aneurysm Outreach Inc., founded in September of 1999. The founder and chief executive officer is Prairieville native, Sheila Arrington.

Aneurysm Outreach Inc., the only organization of its kind in the USA, strives to raise public awareness of the threat of abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA – pronounced “Triple A”) and other aneurysms.

The organization will hold its annual fundraising event Friday, Aug. 14. It will be held at the Varsity Theatre just off of the LSU campus at 3353 Highland Road. The event is called Louisiana Friday Night, and features live music for dancing by Michael Foster Project and Something Blue. There will also be a silent auction with many interesting and unusual items to bid on. Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door. Arrington invites everyone, to “come pass a good time for a good cause.” 

For more information call 225-622-1571 or visit  www.alink.org.

Arrington lost her father to a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm when he was only 58 years old. 

She later discovered that aneurysms were prevalent in her family history. She therefore has a personal motivation and passion for the AOI mission.

Abdominal aortic aneurysm is the 13th leading cause of death in the United States and the 3rd leading cause of sudden death of American males. An aneurysm is a balloon-like swelling in the wall of a weakened blood vessel. Although aneurysms can occur anywhere in the body, the abdominal aortic aneurysm is the most common type. It typically expands slowly over many years and is classified as a “silent killer” because, in most instances, there are no symptoms and no pain until rupture occurs. 

Nearly 90% of patients who experience a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm will die. Therefore, early detection is essentially the only way to combat this insidious killer. An aneurysm in the abdomen usually cannot be felt or seen by the individual or by his physician. However is can be detected by a screening with simple ultrasound equipment, and once detected, it can be successfully repaired.

On the local level, through the support of CVT Surgical Center, Vascular Surgery Associates and The Advocate Newspaper, Aneurysm Outreach Inc. conducts a free, ultrasound-screening program for AAA in the Baton Rouge area for those most at risk. The screening program began in 2001 when Representative John C. “Juba” Diez of Ascension Parish had September designated as “Aneurysm Awareness Month in Louisiana” through Legislative Resolution No. 183. Screenings are offered free to anyone over 60 years of age on a once every 5-6 year basis and also to men and women over 55 who have a family history of aortic aneurysms. 

In 2004, SonoSite, Inc. of Bothell, Washington, presented an opportunity for outward expansion when it offered to furnish its ultrasound equipment for AOI’s AAA screening program. Thus far the expansion has included screenings in most of Louisiana’s major cities, some smaller communities, and Pensacola, Fla. 

Founder and President, Sheila Arrington, was quoted in the June 24, 2003 issue of The Wall Street Journal in an article entitled: “Five Tests Worth Paying For.”

In November 2003, the Society for Vascular Surgery contacted Aneurysm Outreach Inc. and asked them to participate in the coalition to advocate legislation. Congress passed the bill in February 2006 allowing Medicare reimbursement of AAA screening expenses for individuals at risk entering the Medicare system starting January 2007.

A research paper on the results of AOI’s community-based free ultrasonography screening program was published in Annals of Vascular Surgery.