Thank you to our brave patients and families for sharing their experiences
Surviving open heart surgery, cardiac arrest and days on a heart bypass machine in ICU
Robert Coe had an incredible journey, surviving against the odds. When he went in for a complex open heart operation to fix a large coronary artery aneurysm he already had a struggling heart. At the end of a difficult operation, his heart gave out leading to a cardiac arrest. He was urgently placed on a very specialised, high level of support called Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) by his Cardiothoracic Surgeon. Large amounts of blood are sucked out of the body where a pump oxygenates and removes carbon dioxide before sending the blood back at pressure into the aorta, effectively bypassing the heart to give it time to recover.
In addition to remaining on this high level of support for days in ICU, he also was kept in a coma on a ventilator, received dialysis and strong heart support medications among many interventions. He was finally well enough to be taken off this machine in theatre before starting his journey of recovery with a tracheostomy to help support his breathing. This tracheostomy was eventually taken out after rehabilitation on the ward.
Thanks to the tireless efforts from a team of doctors and nurses from multiple departments, Robert is able to return to his family.
Recovering from Necrotising Pancreatitis
“October 2017 I was diagnosed with acute Necrotising Pancreatitis. Spent 8 days in ICU in Bendigo before being urgently flown to St.Vincents public. I spent a total of 9 weeks going from ICU and ward 7 East. The staff were amazing becoming almost a second family as my family were 2 hours away. They helped encourage me to get better and stronger every day. Even in the days that I was really down they knew how to cheer me up.
My most memorable and appreciative act of kindness they did for me was let me borrow a conference room on the ward for a few hours to let me wrap my Christmas presents for my family as i didn’t know if I was going to be home to celebrate it.
I will never forget the amazing level of care and gratitude that I got from all the staff on the ward.
They are the reason why I’m still going strong today.
Thank you so much”
Fighting Leukaemia and a Stroke
“Thank you for never giving up.”
Within one week of marrying his sweetheart, Travis Abel was in the St Vincent’s Intensive Care Unit. Diagnosed with leukaemia, complications set in, and Travis suffered a stroke. What followed was a nightmare of hope and despair, for his bride Ellie, who sat by his side night and day. Unable to speak, paralysed on his right side, and battling cancer, Travis was in a bad way. Several times, waiting by his bedside, Ellie was told to say her final goodbyes. It was a whirlwind of hope, fear, technology, medication, farewells, tears and sheer determination.
Travis spent 9 months at St Vincent’s across many wards, including ICU, the Cancer Centre, Rehabilitation, and many others. He had to learn how to walk, talk and even eat again. Speaking is still not easy for Travis, but wanted to say thank you to all the medical staff and nurses who cared for him during his treatment.
“Words can’t describe it,” he said, looking at his wife, waiting for Ellie to elaborate.
“They were there for you in those worst nights,” Ellie said, stepping into the verbal breach with practiced ease. “They would come and check on you… that in itself made those bad days a little bit better because you know you have that support.”
“I remember one of the surgeons one night he came into the room and he said: ‘we’re in a bit of strife’ and I must not have taken it very well, he came and hugged me… and you don’t get that much from surgeons.”
Travis is still on the mend, he’s back at work, and wholeheartedly agrees with Ellie, who says:
“Thanks so much to everyone who helped us”