FitOldDog Visits Cook Medical And Learns How His Zenith Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Stent Graft Was Made – Remarkable Engineering That Saved My Life

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Hi folks! Great visit to Cook Medical. What a treat!

These delightful ladies, left to right, Sharon, Shelley, and Lisa, saved my life by building my stent to very precise standards, passing a rigorous quality assurance process. Thanks so much!

These delightful ladies, left to right, Sharon, Shelley and Lisa, saved my life by building my stent to precise standards, and a rigorous quality assurance process. Thanks so much!

I gave an invited talk to the Cook Medical Staff, in Bloomington, Indiana, about life with an aortic stent graft for a life-threatening abdominal aortic aneurysm. I was so pleased to have a chance to say how grateful I am to these wonderful people for a remarkable product, which allows me to continue my life and Ironman training pretty well the same as before I discovered my aneurysm in 2010.

Cook Medical reminded me of Trader Joe’s. The people were happy working there. You could feel it in the air and in every conversation. I was pretty excited to meet the three ladies, Sharon, Shelley, and Lisa, who built my stent, or should I say gave birth to Rupert. It was, in fact, a somewhat emotional moment for me, much to my surprise. I then proceeded to give a talk about my experiences, which was well received and apparently inspiring for the staff of this fascinating design and construction pipeline.

This sign greeted me when I entered the building.

This sign greeted me when I entered the building.

Each stent is built almost entirely manually, with highly detailed quality control that occurs at each and every step. I applaud the whole Cook Team, and the Cook Family, who made this happen.

I can’t say thank you enough.

The act of creation is tough, as there are always people who say it can’t be done, get in your way, or they try to steal your ideas. Regulators are constantly harassing you at every step, and all you’re trying to do is help people and build a viable business. I guess the regulators are yet another form of quality control, being part of the process, as long as they don’t get out of control with excessive rules.

A Cook Zenith Abdominal Aortic Stent Graft identical to the one that keeps me going.

Center: A Cook Zenith Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Stent Graft identical to the one that keeps me going. The Cook staff kindly covered the barbs that prevent migration of the stent.

I also encountered a number of athletes at Cook Medical, and enjoyed a lake swim with Chris (triathlete) and Dana (distance swimmer) – thanks guys! Great swim!

I was hosted by Gail, who found me via Twitter, of all things, treated very well, stayed in a neat hotel, The Grant Street Inn, and enjoyed wonderful food and conversation at the Malibu Grill. Our discussions ranged across many aspects of aortic physiology, stent design, the role of fluid mechanics and the importance of aortic health. Oh! Yes! And long conversations with Blayne about the art of cycling – I really enjoyed that.

I now know where Rupert, my stent, was born, and I was given a copy as a keepsake.

Thank you so very much, Cook Medical.

-k @FitOldDog



  1. Alan Martins says

    That is awesome. Glad you had a good visit. Great read.

    • Hi Alan, now I know what Rupert is really all about. What a wonderful visit to Cook. Getting ready for the 2013 World 70.3 Ironman race tomorrow, which looks to be a great race. All my gear bags and the bike turned in. All I have to do now is eat and sleep – up at 3:00 am. Cheers, Kevin

  2. Very nice!

    • Hi Marsha, yep, it was a great visit. Race tomorrow, then a few days camping near the Grand Canyon. Camping in Red Rock Canyon right now, and it’s remarkable. Cheers, Kevin

  3. Did you see the video they made of a day in your life?

    • Hi Marian, I have access and can share, but cannot distribute. I’ll send you the link and password, but don’t distribute. This will have to wait until after the race, as I’m pretty busy right now. Cheers, Kevin

  4. I really love the sign on the wall!

  5. Your visit to Cook was very inspirational! Thank you so much for sharing your testimonial. For those who have toiled away in production sewing grafts- you remind us, focus our thoughts on the true meaning of our work. Life.

  6. Hi Laura, it was a pretty important day for me, and to my surprise a quite emotional one. I live with Rupert (my Cook Zenith stent), so not surprisingly the relationship is important to me. It was fascinating to see the construction pipeline, and the level of quality assurance. More importantly, it was good witness the general happiness of the staff, which says worlds about the nature of your corporate culture – clearly a healthy one. Once again, thanks to you and all the staff for doing the work you do. Furthermore, thanks to you I’m competing in the 2013 World 70.3 Ironman championships here in Las Vegas tomorrow morning. Time to get back to the tent, and to eat and sleep. Cheers, Kevin

  7. I hiked Grand Canyon 3 times; beautiful, amazing, hard. A mile up and down. Zion Natl Park is my favorite; hope you get to see it. Enjoy.

  8. Yep! We went to Zion first, based on many people’s recommendations. Remarkable. Climbs scary.

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.