MIAMI (WSVN) - A woman who credits some South Florida doctors with saving her life after she went into cardiac arrest for six hours, late last year, returned for a heartfelt reunion, Monday.
7News cameras captured Ellen Porter as she hugged the University of Miami Hospital caretakers responsible for a recovery they described as miraculous.
Porter said she is alive and thriving thanks to this medical team. “I’m so grateful,” she said.
On Nov. 4, 2016, Porter was on a plane heading to South Florida to spend the weekend with her son, a student at the University of Miami.
Thousands of feet in the air, she lost consciousness. “I was reading People magazine, having a great time, and the next thing you know, I was in the aisle passed out,” she said.
As soon as the plane landed, the mother of two was rushed to the UM Hospital in Downtown Miami. “Literally, we spent six hours, close to 150 shocks, trying to resuscitate her and get her back to a stable rhythm,” said Dr. Jeff Goldberger.
Goldberger and his staff refused to give up. They said Porter didn’t have advanced heart disease. She would normalize for moments at a time and even appear to wake up, making for a very rare case.
“I’ve been doing this for 30 years, and this is really the first time I’ve ever seen anything like this,” said Goldberger.
Porter was then rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s emergency room to get her in the same room with a machine that, doctors believed, would keep her alive.
“The two-to-five-minute drive in the ambulance felt like forever,” said Dr. Amit Badiye.
The ECMO machine was the life-saving rescue pump that, doctors said, gave Porter’s heart some much-needed rest. “There are very few hospitals that have this kind of equipment available. There are even fewer hospitals that have a team available 24/7 in house,” said Dr. Matthias Loebe.
Doctors discovered myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle, and very low potassium, factors that left Porter hooked up to multiple machines. She remained on a ventilator as days turned into weeks.
More than eight months later, Porter was able to give the UM Hospital doctors who nursed her back to health a token of her appreciation: a painting from her mother.
The artwork is Porter’s way of thanking her caretakers for giving her a second chance.
“I think we all acknowledge that this is really a miracle,” said Goldberger.
“I really learned that you have to wake up each morning and be thankful that you’re there,” said Porter. “Enjoy the day, enjoy your family, enjoy your life because you never know what’s going to happen.”
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