It’s that time of year to eat turkey and say thanks, and we’re celebrating with some of the people who inspire us the most, our patients and their family members. This Thanksgiving, two patient family members share how they’ll be giving thanks together and what makes them so thankful this year:
Meet the Paytons
This September, Marty, his wife, parents, and daughters along with their husbands and children all met in Florida on their way to their Caribbean cruise.
Hurricane Irma was looming over the eastern Caribbean, so the itinerary was changed to the western Caribbean. “It was the perfect storm,” Marty says, “just about anything that could go wrong, did go wrong.”
On the way to Florida, Marty’s father, Danny, was experiencing what he thought was acid reflex. “Dad had already had his annual physicals and his EKGs were all normal so we never even thought that it was any kind of heart issue,” Marty recalls.
When the cruise liner arrived in Cozumel, Mexico on Monday, his father’s condition was worsening and he was seen by the infirmary. After determining Danny was having cardiac issues, the doctor had him transferred to a local hospital to see a cardiologist for immediate surgery. But after the operation, the cardiologist determined that his condition was more severe due to a diseased artery.
It was decided that Danny needed to be repatriated to the United States by air ambulance for a bypass surgery. And with multiple hurricanes coming in, the flights were limited. Meanwhile, he had been transferred to a community hospital in Conzumel where they didn’t have enough beds for their patients.
The hospital wouldn’t release Danny until his medical costs were paid in full. “They were demanding forty thousand dollars,” Marty shares, “I have a cousin who is a banker who was able to get some loans available.”
By the time Angel MedFlight arrived, Marty and his family were more than ready. Marty recalls when the flight crew arrived to take his father: “I’ve never felt so happy to see anyone in my life. I said to one of the flight nurses, ‘do you mind if I hug you?’”
Marty’s father returned home to Shreveport, Louisiana for a triple bypass where he’s been recovering. Just last week, Danny received clearance to fly from his physician, so they can all enjoy Thanksgiving together. “In the end, it all works out, but in that moment, it’s a storm. It’s a trial that test you till the end.”
Here’s Why they’re Giving Thanks
“We’re just so thankful that he survived, being in Mexico for a week and not being able to get out of there due to the hurricane and other circumstances,” Marty shares. “You know, we just feel like God preserved his life and now he’s recovering.”
“We’ll have a good Thanksgiving with all of our family once again, gathered together,” he beams. “We’re looking forward to that.”
Meet the Newmans
This past summer, Kevin Newman was robbed at gunpoint and shot while vacationing with his wife Tiffany, and son Gavin, in Turks and Caicos. “It was something that we never expected,” his wife Tiffany recalls. “I know nobody ever expects to go through something like that.”
Kevin was in serious condition with damage to his liver and right kidney. After receiving initial treatment on the island at Cheshire Hall Medical Center, Kevin had to be transported back to the United States for the treatment he needed.
“I have the operative report from Turks and Caicos that they had sent into Fort Lauderdale to the hospital there. I keep it in my purse and carry it with me and I take it out and read it sometimes just to see the damage and blood loss,” Tiffany shares. “They estimated his blood loss was nine liters. He was bleeding out as they were pumping it into him, he was bleeding it out during surgery. It’s just unbelievable when I think back to it.”
“Gavin and I saw Kevin when we got to the ER at three in the morning, they didn’t take him to surgery until 4:30,” she recalls. “As a nurse, I just knew this is bad. This is really bad. You want to help and do something, but there’s nothing you can do. It was just traumatic.”
The Turks and Caicos hospital didn’t have an ICU, and Kevin needed to be transported to the nearest trauma hospital. That’s when Tiffany’s friend, Eileen, told her about Angel MedFlight.
“Kristy called me and reassured me that you were going to take care of us and come get Kevin and take him where he needed to go so he could receive the best care,” she remembers. “That’s when Angel MedFlight rerouted a jet to come and help us. It was such a relief to see the crew when they got there. I cannot put into words just what a relief it was.”
Today, Kevin is almost fully recovered. He’s been back to work and the Newmans are preparing for another Thanksgiving together. Tiffany is a nurse, working 12-hour shifts, working all week leading up to the holiday. “I told Kevin I just don’t know if I’m up for it this year. I’m going to have so much to do and I have to work,” she recalls. “Then I got to thinking about it. I was like ‘Kevin, we have been through so much and we just have so much to be thankful for this year. I don’t care how stressful it might be, we just need to be with our family and really be thankful together.’”
Here’s Why they’re Giving Thanks
“We were just so blessed with everybody that helped us along the way, so many people helped us,” Tiffany gushes. “It was amazing to realize how much support we had. We just couldn’t believe it once we got home and just kind of took in everything. People were so good to us. I know a lot of people go through horrific things, worse than what we did, and they don’t have what we have. We were so thankful for everybody and what they did for us.”
“And thank God for that surgeon who saved him,” she says. “I can still see his face. You think back about it and just everything that happened. I’m so thankful for that surgeon for saving Kevin’s life. I still look at the report sometimes, and it makes you so thankful looking back at it now that it’s over with and he survived it.”
What and who are you thankful for today?