A young 44 year old female was brought to our Accident & Emergency 8 days back, in a drowsy state with no recordable blood pressure. She had been having pain in abdomen since 2 days prior to arrival, and was diagnosed to have a ureteric calculus causing hydroureter and hydronephrosis (a kidney stone stuck in the tube / ureter connecting the kidneys to the urinary bladder, causing swelling in the tube and in the kidney).
Looking at her poor neurological status, her family was counselled regarding the need for immediately putting her on a ventilator, to which they reluctantly agreed to after a gruelling 20 minutes.
By the time patient was brought to us, she had already been drowsy in the government hospital for more than 4.5 hours, and was in full blown sepsis with pulmonary edema (fluid collection in her lungs) and early ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome). Within few minutes of securing her airway (after intubating her – putting her on a ventilator) and starting all resuscitative measures (with intravenous fluids and drugs to support pumping of her heart), her heart slowed down and suddenly stopped beating.
Immediate lifesaving CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) was started, lifesaving drugs given, and we were able to revive her heart within few minutes.
There are always chances of brain getting permanently damaged if it doesn’t get blood supply for 3 – 5 minutes, in her case it was too early to predict if there was any.
Her husband and sister were distraught as they saw her getting wheeled out to the ICU with all the tubes in her body, IV lines, monitor, ventilator, drug infusion pumps, etc. Only thing they could do now was pray and hope.
Over the next few days, the husband would spend a lot of time in our Emergency waiting area, waiting to just talk to me regarding his wife – I knew that the clinical updates were given by our team of doctors upstairs in the ICU, but he wanted to share his grief too. I would also daily visit the ICU to check on her.
5 days after she was brought to us in that state, she was well on her path to recovery.
3 days back, she was off the ventilator, was given food orally the next day, and today she will most likely be moved to the wards.
This news itself gives such a sense of satisfaction and calm, feelings which can be felt only the heart, and I just thought that stories like this need to be told.
There can be no better reward for we doctors, nurses, and the entire team involved in patient care to see our patients doing well, and come out on top. It always is a great feeling to see the smile on the faces of patients & their relatives as they are being wheeled out from the ICU to the ward, and from the hospital to their homes.
What makes such patient recovery stories special for me is that for a country like India, the survival to discharge percentage for patients suffering an In-Hospital cardiac arrest (heart stopping) will ‘practically’ be less than 15 – 20 %, and I’m glad she will be one of them.
It really has been satisfying to train thousands of healthcare providers and lay persons over the last decade in CPR, as part of ‘Be a Life Saver’ campaign, an initiative I wish to continue in my healthcare journey with the sole objective being – TO SAVE LIVES.