New Milford resident Neta Awasthi is thankful to be home with his wife, Rhicha, and two teenage daughters after what they deem a miraculous recovery from a sudden, life-threatening health crisis that nearly took his life. “I firmly believe the fast actions and teamwork of all the doctors, nurses and so many others who were involved in my care, ultimately saved my life,” said Mr. Awasthi.
Four months ago, on June 3, Mr. Awasthi was rushed to the Danbury Hospital Emergency Department (ED) immediately after an office visit with his primary care physician and a diagnosis of pneumonia. Once at Danbury Hospital, a chest X-Ray revealed he was suffering from a severe case of bilateral pneumonia and rapidly developed Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), a critical condition attributed to failure of the lungs to oxygenate blood, resulting in abnormally low oxygen levels in the blood, leading to multisystem organ failure and death. Because his clinical condition was quickly deteriorating, Mr. Awasthi was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
His wife Rhicha said, “I was in shock! My husband is a healthy 58-year-old man who never had any lung issues then suddenly he was critically ill. No one at the time could say for sure if he would make it through the night.”
“For this to happen so incredibly fast was unthinkable and traumatic, so I called family members and asked a friend to bring our daughters to the hospital because I didn’t know what was going to happen,” added Mrs. Awasthi.
While in the ICU, despite all available treatments, Mr. Awasthi subsequently suffered two cardiac arrests and his condition was progressively worsening. “We were unable to ventilate and oxygenate him,” said Dr. Sakshi Sethi, pulmonary physician and critical care attending.
After consultation with Dr. Eugene Fernandes, cardiothoracic surgeon, Western Connecticut Medical Group, it was decided the best option would be to place Mr. Awasthi on Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO), a bedside heart-lung machine that takes over the functions of the heart and lungs thus providing both cardiac and respiratory support. Dr. Sethi said, “ECMO is a modality of salvaging patients after cardiac arrest, and if timely and expeditiously instituted, result in positive outcomes.”
ECMO was promptly started at his bedside by Dr. Fernandes and physician assistant Dean Rivers of the Cardiac Surgery team and was maintained by William Maldarelli, Steven Toplitz and Jeanne DiNardo of the cardiac surgery perfusion team. “With expert management by the cardiac surgery team in conjunction with the critical care physicians and nurses we were able to stabilize him,” said Dr. Sethi.
The following morning after determining Mr. Awasthi was stable and awake responding to commands, Danbury Hospital’s affiliate for assist devices, Montefiore Medical Center, was contacted and he was transferred for further management.
Four weeks later, Mr. Awasthi left the hospital fully recovered, both functionally and neurologically intact. He returned for an office visit with Dr. Fernandes, at which time Neta and Rhicha Awasthi expressed their sincerest gratitude and admiration for Drs. Fernandes, Sethi and the Cardiac Surgery, Critical Care, Perfusion and ICU Nursing teams whose efforts resulted in this miraculous save.
To learn more about Western Connecticut Health Network’s nationally recognized acute care hospitals and its affiliates, visit WCHN.org.