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42-Year-Old Dad of Two Grateful to Be Alive This Thanksgiving

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42-Year-Old Dad of Two Grateful to Be Alive This Thanksgiving

By Chloe Dean

Around 2 am on November 13, 2023, Deirdre Martinez awoke to the sound of her husband Chad gasping for air. Alarmed, she turned on the lights to better assess what was going on. Chad stumbled out of bed but then collapsed. Deirdre sprang into action — calling 911 and starting chest compressions. Emergency medical services (EMS) arrived at their Centennial home within three minutes, allowing Deirdre to take care of their two young children, Eva and Owen.

EMS teams worked rapidly to stabilize Chad enough to transfer him to AdventHealth Littleton. Once he was transferred and Deirdre was able to get her parents to come to their house to watch the kids, she went to be with Chad at the hospital. A nurse had removed Chad’s wedding ring and gave it to Deirdre when she arrived. Deirdre said she is forever grateful for that small gesture that meant so much to her, as she has worn it while Chad has not been able to.

The teams at AdventHealth Littleton worked diligently to stabilize him in the ICU. Trying a variety of methods such as a heart catheter, the team was able to get Chad’s heart rhythm under control for a few hours at a time before he would go back into cardiac arrest. Deirdre was amazed watching how the nursing teams worked seamlessly together doing chest compressions and shocking Chad’s heart more than 60 times during his stay there in an effort to get his heart rate back to normal. After having a pacemaker placed, Chad was stable enough to be taken to AdventHealth Porter by Flight For Life.

Upon arriving at AdventHealth Porter, surgical teams rushed Chad to the operating room where Dr. Miles Guber initiated ECMO to help stabilize him for the ablation surgery that would follow. The stars aligned as four of our highly skilled electrophysiologists came in to operate on Chad.

Dr. Sri Sundaram noted that this type of ventricular arrhythmia is extremely rare, and their team only sees patients presenting with this complex of a case around once every four years. Cases like these only have an estimated 8% survival rate — it’s a miracle that Chad was able to make it to AdventHealth Littleton and fight for as long as he did. The team of cardiologists agreed that this was one of the most complex arrhythmias they had ever seen. After speaking with Deirdre, the surgical team knew that this surgery was the best chance Chad had to survive.

The aortic valve was blocked by multiple clots, forcing the team to take a creative approach in getting to the correct ventricle. Once they were able to reach the area that was signaling the arrhythmia, they began cauterizing. Once the team correctly identified the affected area, they were able to immediately get Chad’s heart rhythm back to normal. Though the surgical team wasn’t certain Chad would survive, their perseverance paid off.

When all was said and done, Chad needed to be shocked more than 100 times. Between AdventHealth Littleton and AdventHealth Porter, many hours of chest compressions had also been provided as lifesaving measures.

“When a patient is shocked that many times, it’s assumed they have one and three-quarters feet in the grave. The surgery we performed on Chad is one of the best cases our team has done,” said Dr. Sundaram. Ablation surgeries typically only last around two hours — but Chad’s lasted nearly four.

Thank you to Dr. Daniel Alyesh who led the surgery, Dr. Sri Sundaram, Dr. William Choe and Dr. Nicholas Palmeri for their expertise and guidance throughout the case. Anesthesiologist William Navarre, monitor tech Elaine Balcita, Circulator Sona Renker and scrub Melissa Tincher were pivotal in making this surgery a success.

Following the surgery, Chad was taken off ECMO and 24 hours after that, ventilation was removed. Although the neurological damage he had suffered was unknown, his family and care team quickly learned that his memory and mental function were not affected. His physical functioning continues to rapidly improve.

“To know there are so many experts in one place, feels really good,” said Deirdre. “I fully believe in the power of prayer. The outpouring of support from our family, friends, and the team here has meant the world to us.”

His two kids were at the forefront of what kept Chad fighting for his life. He is looking forward to savoring this Thanksgiving at home with his family that has come from near and far.

“I can’t say enough wonderful things about the teams at both hospitals,” said Chad. “Everyone did what they needed to do and did it correctly. I don’t want to diminish the human factor of it all. So many skilled people had to do so many things perfectly. The miracle is that everyone came together at the right time to give their expertise and that’s something I’m still trying to reconcile. It’s not just one thing lining up, it’s all the things lining up.”

Chad is looking forward to getting back to playing with his kids and watching their soccer games.

Chad has a family history of heart irregularities but was not sure if he needed to have any genetic or additional testing done. His message to others is to investigate your health if your family has a history of something you could potentially prevent.

The Martinez family is forever grateful for the gift of having their husband, son and dad back at home.

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