Randy Pierce thought he was in good health. Not only did he work out three times a week, but he also ran the stairs at the local high school football stadium regularly. So he was surprised when he was told to head to the emergency room while having a routine pre-op EKG on June 13 in preparation for a scheduled hernia surgery. He was to go to the emergency room as soon as possible because there was a problem with his heart, so he immediately headed to Texas Health HEB. He was admitted that afternoon with AFib, or Atrial fibrillation, which is an irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, or heart failure.
The following morning, he failed a chemical stress test, which is used to determine the blood flow to the heart. That afternoon Michael J. Duran, M.D., a cardiologist on the medical staff of Texas Health HEB, discovered three of his arteries were blocked and inserted three stents. Randy returned home the following day.
When he went for his follow up appointment, arrangements were made to deal with his atrial fibrillation, which was still present. After initiating medication in the hospital and two cardio shocks, he was maintaining a normal rhythm.
On August 27th, Randy was sitting in his chair at home. He made a moaning noise and his wife, Ginny, thought he had a cramp in his calf. She soon realized he was gasping for air and called 911. When the paramedics arrived, they could not detect a heartbeat. They were later told his heart had gone into VFib, or Ventricular fibrillation. VFib is a heart rhythm problem that happens when the heart beats with erratic electrical impulses, causing pumping chambers in the ventricles of the heart to quiver uselessly instead of pumping blood.
After being stabilized, Randy was taken to the emergency room and later admitted to the ICU where he underwent hypothermia protocol. The physician warned Ginny there may not be any brain function due to the lack of oxygen to Randy’s brain when his heart stopped. After three to four agonizing days, Randy squeezed his nurse’s hand. He was transferred to the Cardiac Stepdown Unit and on September 3rd they installed a Pacemaker/Defibrillator.
Randy was discharged in September and has normal functions. Several doctors and nurses have referred to his recovery as a miracle. Statistics show 86 percent of people who suffer from VFib don’t survive.
“It was miraculous that he had a complete recovery,” said Duran, who performed the life-saving surgery. “Especially since there was no identifiable cause of the VFib. The biggest variable is if there is severe neurologic injury and he didn’t have any. I credit the paramedics with doing an excellent job.”
The Pierces recently attended a meeting of hospital leadership to tell their story. They recalled how they felt comforted and reassured they were in qualified hands. Ginny stated she couldn’t remember a time when a nurse or any of the staff when leaving the room didn’t say “Can we do anything before we leave or bring you anything?” and mentioned that the gesture meant so much to her.
The Pierces believe they experienced a miracle. “It was by the grace of God, a result of advanced technology, and the great care he received while he was a patient at Texas Health HEB”, Ginny said.
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