Ryan Jones, right, with Jim and Louise Malloy. (Jackson Smith | UVA Health System) Ryan Jones, right, with Jim and Louise Malloy.
(Jackson Smith | UVA Health System)

A University of Virginia medical school student performing a training examination on a “practice patient” assigned to complain about a specific condition discovered that the man actually had the disease — and he saved his life in the process.

According to the University of Virginia Health System, student Ryan Jones of Danville, Va., was checking pretend patient Jim Malloy for an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), a condition common in men between 65 and 75 years old in which a section of the lower part of the aorta — the body’s main artery — starts to bulge. The bursting of such an aneurysm can  easily be fatal.

Malloy and his wife, Louise, who live in Crozet, Va., have served as “standardized patients” at the University of Virginia School of Medicine for some time, pretending to have a number of different health problems for student patients to try to diagnose.

In this case, Jones checked out Malloy and reported to the physician overseeing the training session that he actually felt and heard the  symptoms of an AAA. The physician told Malloy to see a cardiologist and, after a few months, he did. The doctor found an AAA and Malloy had stent surgery at the University of Virginia Medical Center last year.

Louise Malloy is quoted by the University of Virginia Health System in this release as saying, “Jim’s life was saved by a UVA medical student, no doubt about it.”

Jones, who plans to be a radiation oncologist, found out about Malloy a few months after their session when he ran into Louise Malloy, who had an assignment as a standardized patient, at the hospital and she thanked him.