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On Monday, December 2, 2019, while visiting family in NC, David developed symptoms suggestive of a heart attack and was taken to the Duke ER. While waiting for blood test results, he coded in the ER. He was taken to the cardiac catheterization lab and found to have severe multi-vessel coronary atherosclerotic disease. The doctors were able to stent the most-affected artery (100 percent blocked) before they had to stop the procedure. David was taken to the ICU in an induced coma and on a respirator. Initially, he was also on an ECMO machine, similar to the heart-lung bypass machine used in open-heart surgery. For several days he seemed barely conscious and was unable to respond to commands. Although his heart and other organs were functioning well, David’s cognitive functioning was an increasing concern. The medical team advised that the only way to assess David’s residual functioning would be for him to wake up. By this point, David was breathing on his own although still on the respirator. However, David’s restlessness and thrashing whenever the sedation was reduced thwarted efforts to remove the breathing tube. On Friday, December 6, the medical team was able to determine the magic combination of medications that allowed for the removal of the breathing tube. In what seemed an almost miraculous turnaround, David was awake and responsive to his family.
Since then, David's care has focused mainly on symptoms of short-term memory loss, expressive aphasia, and right-sided weakness. These symptoms are presumably due to the lack of oxygen incurred during cardiac arrest, multiple episodes of ventricular fibrillation, and CPR. No definitive evidence of a causative stroke has been seen on imaging. David is quite weak and easily tired but maintains a sense of humor, even though he is often confused. Currently, there are plans to discharge David, perhaps this week, to an inpatient rehabilitation facility in the Durham/Chapel Hill area.
David's immediate family consists of wife Lisa and David's two daughters. Lisa flew from Nashville to NC on December 2, along with David's daughter Sarah. David's other daughter, Lauren, lives in Durham, NC, with husband Dominic and their three children.