This past week, Toronto Star reporter Mary Ormsby, had a feature story that speaks to so many important issues. The article, which details a miraculous medical event, speaks openly about mental health, speaks magnificently about the marvels of modern medicine, and speaks glowingly about Kingston General Hospital and its staff. The full article is available online and I encourage readers to access it as Ms. Ormsby writes beautifully about the dramatic story.
In essence, the article details the saga of a Queen’s student, Tayyab Jafar, who last year was suffering from depression and other mental health conditions and attempted to take his life. And it’s a miracle that saved him. Having become unconscious in the middle of January from an overdose of sedatives in his system, he was found, what sounds like many hours later, with no vital signs and literally frozen; his core body temperature was 16°C lower than normal.
The first hero of the story was Queen’s student Alex Reid, who having found a suicide note, called 911 and started looking for his friend. The second heroes of the story were the team of paramedics, including Jonathan Andreozzi, Julie Socha, Andrew Liersch and Lise-Anne Lepage-McBain who started immediate CPR.
The next part of the story, is nothing short of amazing, and speaks to an incredibly dedicated team at KGH, and nothing short of a miracle of modern medicine.
The hospital ER team dedicated themselves to an aggressive resuscitation plan, because even though Tayyab was not breathing and had no pulse, he was also incredibly cold, and brain and other organ functions, as we all know, can be preserved in the hypothermic state. The interventions were administered by a large team, including nurse Jane Lewis, E.R physician, Joey Newbigging, and cardiac surgeon Andrew Hamilton. The treatments were many. They included over an hour of CPR. Then there was insertion of tubes into the pleural space for warming. Then there was a bold attempt by Hamilton to use similar technology as one would for a heart bypass procedure, by instituting a procedure known as extracorporeal warming.
Tayyab also received approximately 100 units of blood or blood products. He subsequently was treated for “distressed lungs” using a sophisticated machine-based therapy known as ECMO, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.
Ultimately, a long period in the ICU, in part being treated by ICU nurses Vanessa Holmes and Jennifer Bird, and after a long period of rehabilitation, Tayyab has successfully recovered and has returned to Queen’s continuing his studies in mathematics.
If you can excuse the pun, this heartwarming story has many interesting elements; not the least of which is the whole issue of resuscitation after attempted suicide, which I think for health providers in the emergency situation, is an easy decision. Another interesting aspect to the story, is when do you “give up”. In reality, so many individuals in the “team” basically never gave up; his friend, the AMS team, the ER team, the surgical team, his ICU nurses and doctors…all were dedicated to providing a second chance to Tayyab. And finally, to me, the story speaks to how lucky we are that we live in a city which has such a great hospital system. There are not too many small cities like Kingston, which have an academic medical center. Without the quarternary care that Tayyab received, he may well not have survived. We should all be proud of the incredible work of our heath professional team here at KGH and Queen’s.
If you have any thoughts on this story, please respond to the blog, or better yet, please drop by the Macklem House, my door is always open.