Neighbors, bystanders and emergency personnel worked together to evacuate a 20-year-old young man with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) who relies on a wheelchair for mobility from his burning apartment building as quickly as they could last fall. Yet, despite heroic efforts, the young man inhaled too much smoke, sustained significant damage to his lungs and ultimately was placed on a ventilator.
His family, who had lost nearly everything in the fire, feared they might also lose their son and brother… would he ever breathe on his own again? Would he be able to come home for game night? Would he be able to come home for good?
The outcome was uncertain when AG first arrived at Hospital for Special Care. As the respiratory therapy staff got to know AG and his mom, they could see that their patient was determined to succeed and had a great support system. Working closely with pulmonologist Marcy Goldstein, MD, chief of medicine at HFSC, they helped AG and his family learn about the stages of the process to wean from the ventilator. “They explained everything, and they gave me so much encouragement on the hardest days,” said AG’s mom.
The respiratory therapy team helped AG with the physical stages of vent weaning, and they also helped him cope with the extreme anxiety that can often accompany the process. “They stayed with me and talked to me for a while, until I calmed down. I had a huge problem with my anxiety and stuff. But eventually I got used to it and could do it without any problems.,” said AG. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them.”
AG is one of many ventilator weaning patients successfully discharge from HFSC and return home this year. He has rejoined his family in their new home and his bedroom is now on the first floor to ensure he can safely evacuate in an emergency. He plans to enjoy the fresh air in the nearby park and make the most of the life that has been returned to him.