On Monday, May 21, 2018, Aalex 27, was hospitalized with a near-fatal asthma attack and respiratory virus related symptoms, which led to two cardiac arrests with one that lasted 15 minutes and suffering brain damage. Luckily, on that afternoon his grandmother was home working in her garden outside. She was able to hear his fainted, out of breath cry for help from his upstair window. She felt uneasy and rushed upstairs to find him on his bedroom floor, struggling to breathe. It wasn’t until later we learned that it could have been fatal if he had waited.
First responders arrived within minutes to help him and immediately taken by ambulance to St. Joseph hospital. His mother, Sovanna, left work soon after to check on him, thinking it was the usual checkups & treatments but this time, it was different. Instead she saw her son, lying on the hospital bed in a coma, heavily sedated and connected to a lot of machines. It was a mother’s worst nightmare. She was told he suffered a sudden cardiac arrest on the way to hospital. First responders were able to revived his heartbeat after nearly 5 minutes. He was immediately put on life support shortly after arriving to the hospital. It was heartbreaking and unbearable for her and the family to believe.
We received more heartbreaking news from the doctors, saying that his chance of surviving was extremely low, his lungs are failing and there wasn't much time left for him. He suffered another cardiac arrest on May 23rd that lasted about 15 minutes. Doctors were doing everything they could to help stabilize his symptoms and was relying on life support to keep him alive. Our last hope was to have Aalex transported to an advanced hospital out of town, to be connected to an advanced life support, called extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, aka ECMO/ECLS. Just waiting for an available room was agonizing. All we had left to do was pray.
Thankfully, Aalex was finally transferred to Harborview Medical Center on the following Thursday night, May 24th. Doctors performed an emergency surgery to get him connected to the new ECMO machine right away. Thank god his surgery was a success. Since the transfer, it has given our family a little bit of a relief, a new found hope and that scary unknown feeling has lessened.
After about a week of being on ECMO treatment, Aalex had become more stable and was taken off sedation to await for his first response. Sadly, he hasn’t regain consciousness and wasn’t responsive yet. Doctors did more exams and have detected swelling in his brain with two injuries from the last cardiac arrest, as predicted. Later, doctors did another surgery to connect his trachea to a breathing tube. Luckily, before we realized it, he was finally off life support and moving on to the next stage of recovery.
It has been four months now and Aalex still remains in a vegetative state. He was transferred out of the hospital on June 19, 2018 to a nursing care rehabilitation center near home. He has been receiving extensive care for his recovery along with physical therapy daily. On September 6th, he was rushed back to St Joseph hospital emergency care for pneumonia, high fever, and severe vomiting of blood. He recovered after receiving treatment for a couple of weeks and was released back to nursing care on September 20th. Hopefully, there will be no more complications and emergency hospital visits in the future.
This incident has been really tough on our family, especially his mother, Sovanna. Aalex is her only child. She can’t bare the thought of being apart from him nor see him in pain and suffering like that. She is a single mother working full time and has been at his bedside, nearly everyday after work, to watch over him as much as she can. She can only afford to take a few days off at a time now, as she struggles to make a living. We know she tries her best to show us she is strong but deep down she is also suffering deeply, sometimes to a point of exhaustion. Family and close friends have been a super tremendous support with keeping her spirits up and trying to help her get through this difficult time.
We all know it is going to be a very long and difficult journey ahead. Everyday, we are just truly thankful & blessed that he is still living and breathing, up until this day. We remain hopeful as he is holding on and fighting for his life, slowly improving one day at a time. Recently, he was able to give his mom a sign. It was his best smile, truly an amazing smile to see and we look forward to many more!
Please help in any way you can by sending your prayers and lots of good vibes our way! Your kind donations, large or small, will be truly appreciated!
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