Patient Experiences old

Thank you to our brave patients and families for sharing their experiences

coming together patient experiences svhm icu

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.
survival against the odds
necrotising pancreatitis at svhm icu

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”


travis abel family

Recovering from a ruptured brain aneurysm

“There is a way of going about things at St Vincent’s…which is very generous” – Dennis
“From the moment we arrived in the ambulance with Dennis, I felt very glad we were here. I was really thrilled when I knew we were being transferred to St Vincent’s. So from the moment we came through the doors…I trusted that everything that could be done would be done for Den.” – Christine (wife)
“To all the people who looked after me at St Vincent’s…I would just like to express my very deep gratitude for what you’ve done for me” – Dennis

Fighting respiratory failure

“My name is Amanda Johnson, I am now 30 years old, back in 2016-2017 I ended up in ICU for about 4-5 weeks when I was told by my local GP I had respiratory failure. 
I was in and out of sleep for days. I ended up having to get a trachey and I stayed in it for a further 5-6 weeks. I was transferred between 3 hospitals ( started off in Wang then St V’s then back to Wang ) my nurse in ICU was Joan Logan. She took amazing care of me. She even looked after my family. We shared a special bond. 
I really appreciate what everyone did for me in hospital. I wouldn’t be here if I ignored the advice. Thanks St V’s.”

Bob the 'Miracle Man' - surviving VF cardiac arrest

“Hi back in November 2013 on the 19th i was at home when around 4.30 i had a cardic arrest, going about 20mins without a heart beat next door done cpr for 15mins, i was transferred to st vinnies arriving some time early morning 20th i was told that i had 2 more cardic arrest whilst in intensive care to which i was told that there was not much hope i would live. i woke up some time on the following monday moring, after the staff removed all the tubes and other things i looked at the doctor standing at the bottom of the bed an said how are you going, to which he replied the miracle man i had no idea why he said that until i looked around. thank you for saving my life, hi to everyone take care cheers Bob, Mount Beauty”
Robert Brown
petra svhm icu

On induced comas and the small things that matter

“We DO remember- not everything, obviously, but quite a few snippets of hazy lucidity tend to stay with you- almost like waking recall of a dream, but one that stays with you much longer.”
“…mostly I choose to remember the nurses who held my hand or brushed my hair off my forehead, that glorious woman from HDU (and how surprisingly deliciously decadent a small spoonful crushed ice can be)”.
“Ultimately, you saved my life (a few times, I’ve been told) and for that I’m happy to trade a little of my dignity (and the upper octaves of my voice).”

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