When Tiffany and Jonathan Aitken of Harrisburg walked their young family to a park a few blocks from home last April, they never imagined they’d need lifesaving care. Trying to get in shape after giving birth ten weeks earlier, Tiffany, 32, took a brisk walk before joining her family for the trip home. As she picked up her oldest daughter, she turned to Jonathan and said, “Something doesn’t feel right.” Then she sat down and passed out.
Tiffany lost consciousness a few more times waiting for an ambulance. At PinnacleHealth’s Harrisburg Hospital Emergency Room, doctors suspected a pulmonary embolism, a sudden blockage or clot in a lung artery. Tiffany was “hanging on,” they warned Jonathan taking him to her bedside amid a flurry of caregivers.
A CT scan revealed two large clots in Tiffany’s lungs, and Dr. Mubashir Mumtaz, chief of cardiothoracic surgery, was consulted. He told Jonathan the clot-busting medicines Tiffany received would make surgery dangerous, and he’d like to wait and see if her condition improved. Ten minutes later, Tiffany’s vital signs faltering, Dr. Mumtaz and thoracic surgeon Troy Moritz rushed her to surgery—the life-saving procedure to remove the clots took two hours.
“My pastor shared later that Dr. Mumtaz said the odds of surviving such a surgery were one in 500,000,” says Jonathan. “If they hadn’t taken that risk at that moment, Tiffany might have died in the emergency room.”
Following surgery, Dr. Mumtaz cautioned that Tiffany might have more hurdles—she had gone into cardiac arrest and been revived by CPR twice on the way to the emergency room meaning there was a chance she had lost brain function. Family and friends were allowed into the ICU to pray over her. Her breathing tube was removed the day after surgery, and her recovery began quickly. After three days in the ICU, she moved to the cardiac recovery unit and went home four days later.
“Every day there was something to be excited about after such a tragic experience,” says Jonathan. “That she went through this and came out with no loss of memory or motor skills and no infection, is just amazing.”
Tiffany is happy to be home taking care of her children and singing on her church worship team with Jonathan--her lungs and vocal chords miraculously undamaged by the clotting or breathing tube.
“I’m so thankful that I was at Harrisburg Hospital,” says Tiffany. “I feel like if I had been somewhere else, they might not have taken the risk. The decisions that the doctors made and the timing of it all saved my life. I feel like everyone just did their best—above and beyond—and every day I’m just so glad to be alive.”