sudden cardiac arrest patient story

Mercy Stories: Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Mar 23 2018

Learn how the Mercy Health team helped revive one patient from sudden cardiac arrest and helped her experience with sudden cardiac arrest recovery.

One minute 55-year-old Nelly Davila was sitting at a table and talking with her mother-in-law. The next, she had dropped her fork, lost consciousness and gone into sudden cardiac arrest. Fortunately, Nelly’s brother-in-law began CPR right away. As Nelly was rushed to Mercy Regional Medical Center’s emergency department, emergency workers continued CPR along with multiple defibrillations.

At the medical center, Nelly’s heart wasn’t beating. Therefore, she was considered dead on arrival. However, that didn’t stop a determined medical team. Mercy Health’s team of physicians and nurses worked nonstop for an hour, amid ongoing prayer from her husband, Roberto. Nelly was successfully revived.

That day – February 6, 2016 – is etched in Nelly’s mind. Although she doesn’t remember anything from that day or even the day before, she credits her experience at Mercy Regional Medical Center as giving her a chance to get back to the life she loves so much. Nelly returned to her job as a social worker, volunteering with youth at her church and watching her daughters continue to grow.

“I was treated with such kindness, like you would your own daughter,” Nelly said. “While in the ICU, I was in a medically induced coma to help me heal as I was fighting many complications. I knew I was surrounded by nurses and staff who took not only loving care of me, but also of my family.

The last thing Nelly remembered before her sudden cardiac arrest was sitting in a meeting on the previous Thursday. In fact, after she was resuscitated and admitted to Mercy Regional Medical Center’s intensive care unit, it was another two and a half weeks before she woke up and remembered anything about her life.

Because her heart had stopped for nearly two hours, doctors expected some neurological complications. Nelly spent the next seven weeks battling kidney and liver failure, sepsis, pneumonia and internal bleeding.

“When you have so much CPR and go through such an extensive recovery, your entire body aches,” Nelly said. “The staff knew that and took every precaution to ease my pain and worry.”

The road to recovery

While she felt weak, Nelly continued to improve while under the care of physicians and nurses at Mercy Regional Medical Center who would ultimately refer to her story as an “amazing recovery.” An internal defibrillator was implanted to shock her heart in case of a recurrence, and she eventually had another procedure to prevent further complications.

It took an entire year for Nelly to complete her sudden cardiac arrest recovery. Over the course of the past year, she underwent many tests and participated in Mercy Regional Medical Center’s onsite cardiac rehab program and the monthly cardiac support group.

“Therapy was difficult, because I was so afraid and often struggling to keep going, but the rehab team understood my fears and helped me face them. I knew with them by my side, I could complete the program and come back stronger.”

Nelly knows she is lucky to have a story with a positive ending. Last year, the American Heart Association reported that nearly 385,000 people in the United States went into out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest. Patients’ chance of surviving is more than double if a bystander can perform CPR prior to the arrival of medical personnel.

“I experienced such tenderness, warmth and compassion from everyone at Mercy. They tended to my body and soul, and also gave comfort to my husband and daughters who were distraught,” Nelly said. “I never realized how much the little things meant until I became a patient. The staff at Mercy Regional Medical Center made me feel safe. They are my heroes! They do their jobs professionally and with a lot of heart.”




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