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Man in Lethal Arrhythmia Saved by Wife, Sutter Heart Specialists

Posted by on Oct 31, 2013 in Cardiac Services, Sutter Health Sacramento Sierra Region, Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento | 0 comments

SACRAMENTO – George Vaughn, 45, of Sacramento never had heart trouble. On Sept. 4, that changed quickly … and dramatically.

While taking a shower that morning, Vaughn had a cardiac arrest and fell unconscious, which awoke his wife, Lily. She had CPR training nearly 20 years earlier and remembered enough to keep him alive until first responders arrived.

Lily Tang talks about keeping her husband, George Vaughn, left, alive through CPR while Sutter Heart & Vascular Institute Medical Director David Roberts, M.D., right, and Subramaniam Krishnan, M.D., who performed a procedure that saved George's life, listen during an event when Lily received a American Heart Association Heartsaver Hero Award.

Lily Tang talks about keeping her husband, George Vaughn, left, alive through CPR while Sutter Heart & Vascular Institute Medical Director David Roberts, M.D., right, and Subramaniam Krishnan, M.D., who performed a procedure that saved George’s life, listen during an event when Lily received a American Heart Association Heartsaver Hero Award.

When he was brought to Sutter Memorial Hospital, Vaughn was in a ventricular fibrillation storm – a constant series of cardiac arrests – and had to be shocked at least three-dozen times in the emergency room.

Various medications were given to halt this lethal arrhythmia, but nothing was working. He was brought into a cath lab that doubles as a surgery room, and a team of about 20 clinicians – including interventional cardiologists and heart surgeons – worked quickly to try to stop the storm. While there, Vaughn received continuous shocks as the storm worsened. It is estimated his heart was shocked more than 200 times.

None of the Sutter clinicians – from nurses and lab techs to cardiologists and heart surgeons, totaling hundreds of years of experience – had ever experienced a patient with a previous healthy heart in this kind of V-Fib storm. Except one.

Cardiac electrophysiologist Subramaniam Krishnan, M.D., not only saved a 40-year-old woman’s life having the same kind of storm, his team’s case report was published in 2009 in the Journal of Interventional Cardiac Electrophysiology.

After about eight hours of intense, cooperative work from many subspecialists, Dr. Krishnan performed a radiofrequency ablation technique that he used in the previous case. It worked. Vaughn’s ventricular fibrillations stopped completely, but doctors still implanted a defibrillator in case his heart goes nuts again.

“The honest reality is that a ventricular fibrillation storm usually ends in death, and most hospitals would not have thought to perform an ablation on this patient,” said Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento Cardiac Cath Lab Director Thomas Rhodes.

Just a month after this episode, Vaughn was feeling well enough to go back to work. He has no memory of any of the action when he went into the V-Fib storm, because he passed out in the shower and didn’t wake up for a couple of days. Everyone has told him he’s lucky to be alive.

“Frankly,” Vaughn says, “I’m glad I lost the memory of it.”

He and his wife went to Sutter Memorial Hospital in October to thank the doctors and nurses who saved his life. But he still saves a special place in his heart for someone else.

“My life was saved several times that day,” he says, “but my wife, Lily, she was first one who saved my life with the CPR. I wouldn’t be here without her and everyone at Sutter.”

For her lifesaving efforts, Lily Tang was honored by the American Heart Association with a Heartsaver Hero Award, which recognizes those who used CPR to save a life.

“We celebrate the efforts of Lily Tang who kept her composure and performed CPR on her husband even though she hadn’t been trained in 20 years,” said Diane Sobkowicz, M.D., Sutter’s medical director of women’s heart health and an American Heart Association spokesperson. “Lily, your incredible bravery and courage and your ability to react under pressure are what kept your husband alive long enough to make it here to receive medical treatment.”

Posted by on Oct 31, 2013 in Cardiac Services, Sutter Health Sacramento Sierra Region, Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento | 0 comments