God Gives the Breath of Life
By Shannon Woodland
The 700 Club
CBN.com -“I was excited to get out and exercise. It was a gorgeous day. I just had a baby so I wasn’t in tip-top shape. But I wasn’t running or doing anything strenuous,” explained Tiffany. “Still, something wasn’t right.”
It came without warning. 29-year-old Tiffany Aitken was on an afternoon walk when she collapsed. Her husband John didn’t know what was going on. He began to yell her name.
Paramedic Jeffrey Cooper and EMT Reuben Rosenberg responded to the 911 call. “She didn’t look very good,” said Paramedic Cooper. “She was very pale. She was very diaphoretic. She was sweaty. Her lips were purple. She really looked like she was in bad shape.”
Tiffany was in and out of consciousness during the ambulance ride to Pinnacle Health, Harrisburg Hospital in Pennsylvania. On arrival, Tiffany stopped breathing. EMT Reuben Rosenberg looked back at the call. “I jumped out of the truck. I walked to the back doors to open them up to prepare to pull the stretcher out. I remember Jeff saying, ‘Tiffany, Tiffany, hey!’ and I saw him move his fist up to do a sternal rub. And I saw that and I jumped in to check for a pulse because my first thought is let’s make sure she’s got a heartbeat.”
Tiffany started breathing again. The emergency room staff quickly got to work. The minute Tiffany’s husband, John, got to the ER, the staff told him her blood pressure was bottoming out – and they didn’t know why. “I walked back and there’s at least 15 to 20 nurses, doctors, surrounding her bed and at this point they already had her intubated. They had the breathing tube in. They had IV’s in both arms and both legs. And, she doesn’t look good.”
John sat nearby and watched and prayed as the team worked to keep his wife alive. “She was clenched on the breathing tube and she was fighting for her life, and that’s when I began to have this hope rise up within me to say, ‘Okay, we’re going to fight. We’re going to continue to believe and fight whatever this thing is,’” recalled John.
Finally, the doctor discovered the problem, a blood clot. They gave Tiffany medication to break it up. Cardiac Surgeon Mubashir Mumtaz was called to the ER. He ordered a CAT scan to confirm the diagnosis and found two large clots blocking both lungs. As life support kept Tiffany alive, her blood pressure continued to drop. Dr. Mumtaz felt Tiffany needed surgery right away. But the medication she had been given would make it very risky.
“Obviously a lot of things were going through my mind at that time,” reported Dr. Mumtaz. “‘Do you want to live with the regret of not doing something for a young person and her not making it? Versus at least making an effort to save her despite what the risks are at that time?’ In many ways, her blood pressure going down again after the CAT scan made the decision for me that I have to give her a chance.”
Dr. Mumtaz told John if the blood clots weren’t removed, Tiffany would die. He also told him there was no guarantee either that she would survive surgery. John took one more opportunity to pray for his wife and then watched as the surgical team wheeled her into the O.R. “This could be the last chance. There’s not enough time. There wouldn’t have been enough time to say everything that needed to be said,” sobbed John.
While Dr. Mumtaz and his team worked on removing a number of blood clots, John, his friends and family, and his church prayed. “It was like a charge of energy to the room. And that’s what we did we stood up and we began to pray from a place of authority and a place of strength,” said John.
A few hours later, Dr. Mumtaz came out of surgery. “I told John one step went well and let’s hope the next step will also go well.”
“Isn’t this really good news?” asked John. “It is yeah it is. It’s amazing news, because two hours before that I thought, ‘This could be the last time I see her.’ And it’s like, ‘Okay, she’s alive. She made it through, but what else?’”
Tiffany made it through surgery but the question now was whether she had brain damage. All they could do was wait and pray. After three days of semi-consciousness Tiffany woke up. And it was immediately clear to everyone that Tiffany was going to be okay. “Wow, a miracle happened and I’m the result of it. I’m here and I’m alive. And it’s just really cool!” smiled Tiffany.
“It became fun,” said John. “Because now you are seeing God’s hand and the miraculous take place.”
Only one in 500,000 people survive the removal of a double pulmonary embolism. Tiffany was one of them. Dr. Mumtaz said, “She did a great recovery without any problems or deficits. To see her back in the office with her family and young kids it was an amazing feeling.”
“It was awesome!” exclaimed EMT Rosenberg. “She was able to go home. And, not just go home, but go home at 100%. That’s beautiful!”
“To see everything fall into place for this young lady, to make it out of this bad, bad problem that she had, it’s amazing to all of us,” recalled Dr. Mumtaz. “It’s not only science. It’s a lot of other stuff that happened right for her that she survived so well. It’s amazing and something we’re never going to forget.”
“I feel like everyone around me has had more of an experience with this than I have,” reminisced Tiffany. “Even though it happened to me, their eyes were opened so much wider to the goodness of God. When people just tell me, ‘Oh, you have no idea!’ It has really impacted their lives, and they are changed because of it and their every day is different. I could have never imagined that something this potentially devastating could have such an amazing outcome. It’s just beyond my understanding. Really!”
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