Celebration of Life at St. John Medical Center
Teamwork and technology combined for an incredible success story at St. John Medical Center when Westlake resident Amanda Van Schoor, 36, thanked her family and caregivers recently for saving her life after suffering a cardiac arrest last Feb. 7.
Amanda’s celebration of life included family members, her caregivers and representatives of a medical manufacturing company, Abiomed, the maker of a miniature pump that can be threaded through an artery and placed inside the heart.
The pump helps critically ill heart attack and heart failure patients by assisting the heart’s main pumping chamber drive blood through the body. The pump kept Amanda alive for nine days after her cardiac crisis, giving her heart a chance to rest and recover.
It started as a normal day for the Van Schoor family last February. Amanda, her husband, Nick, and sons, Caden, 6, and Cameron, 8, had just returned home from Cameron’s basketball game at the Westlake Recreation Center. Nick heard some unusual noises in the kitchen, and found his wife in distress on the floor. He called 911 and followed the dispatcher’s instructions to provide CPR.
“Nick thought I was choking,” says Amanda. “He never thought of doing CPR until the dispatcher told him to do so.” Fortunately, as a lineman for FirstEnergy, Nick had recently undergone CPR training.
With Cameron flagging down Westlake EMS outside the house, the rescue team responded quickly and delivered Amanda to the SJMC Emergency Room. Caregivers found blood flow to Amanda’s brain and other vital organs was compromised. Within an hour, interventional cardiologist Naim Farhat, MD, and his team inserted the Impella pump through a vein and into Amanda’s heart. She was life-flighted to University Hospitals, where the Impella pumped blood to her vital organs for nine days until Amanda’s heart recovered enough that it could pump on its own.
“The team weaned her off support devices every day, and her organs responded by doing everything they were supposed to do,” says Atul Hulyalkar, M.D., Amanda’s cardiologist.
About the Pump
St. John Medical Center is the first hospital on the West Side to use the Impella pump. It is a pump so small it can be threaded through an artery and placed inside the heart.
“The pump can be in place for hours or days, which gives a seriously damaged heart crucial time to recover before other procedures are performed,” says Dr. Farhat.
The Impella pump is a minimally invasive procedure. The Impella – a rotary pump with a tiny motor – is inserted by way of a standard catheterization.
“Heart attack and heart failure patients with blockages often need increased blood flow quickly, and the Impella pump helps us accomplish this,” says Dr. Farhat. “It gives us the opportunity to treat patients we couldn’t treat before.”
Abiomed, manufacturer of the pump, estimates that more than 100,000 Americans could benefit from the pump each year.
Dr. Hulyalkar credits a “great team” for Amanda’s successful recovery, including her husband, Westlake EMS, the staff in the St. John Medical Center Emergency Department, and the Impella implantation cardio team in the ICU.
“We have a great team at St. John Medical Center,” says Dr. Hulyalkar. “This case shows how, by working together, we can truly make a difference in our community.”
Amanda is very grateful to her support team. “I want to thank each and everyone in this room – doctors, nurses, family, my husband Nick, Dr. Hulyalkar, Dr. Farhat, the Impella team,” she said. “I appreciate all of you for saving my life.”
She also expressed gratitude to the Westlake community for providing dinners, school transportation and other support to her family. “Everybody has been great and supportive,” she said.