Adeline, an OB/GYN resident physician, was starting her second year of residency in Texas when she got sick. On July 8th Adeline went into work for her 12-hour shift in the ER. While she mostly delivers babies, she was doing a rotation in the ER, treating COVID patients. That morning she went into work feeling well and excited to see patients, but by the evening she felt under the weather.
What started as intense flu-like symptoms escalated within the week to a hospital stay. Adeline spent the next few weeks battling COVID and was treated with several respiratory therapies and put on dozens of drugs. When there was no positive response to these methods of treatment Adeline began an experimental drug trial. However, before we could see if this new drug was effective, her lungs could no longer support her.
On August 3rd Adeline was intubated and placed on a ventilator. That night her vitals were unstable, and the doctors said that she was not responding well to the ventilator. After consulting with our parents, the doctors took the last remaining step available.
At 1 am on August 4th Adeline was placed on ECMO, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. The catheters used in the ECMO machine involved an invasive procedure to place them in her femoral artery. The ventilator opened her lungs through positive pressure, while the ECMO machine oxygenates her blood. This leaves Adeline’s lungs with the only task of healing themselves. They projected Adeline would on the ventilator and ECMO for at least 6-8 weeks.
This weekend Adeline’s family shared:
“Adeline was doing wonderfully for the last few days. I usually posted an update here after we spoke to the night nurse. Last night was no different. Around 10:00 we called and got a good report. As we settled down for the night 30 minutes later, the phone rang – Houston, TX.
There was a problem and we needed to decide about performing a procedure to relieve the pressure of a massive brain bleed. The nurse came into her room for a routine task and noticed Adeline was not responsive. The immediately rushed her for a CT scan which showed the extent of the damage.
The neurosurgeon said it was a “1 in a million” chance she would even survive the procedure, but that Adeline would have several severe cognitive and sensory limitations if she did survive. Of that the doctor was sure. Everyone was crushed by the events, the nurses, the doctors, and, of course, us. The doctor said they have seen this type of event in COVID patients that spend time on ECMO.
The vascular system is also compromised by the virus, resulting in bleeds. We spent the remaining minutes hugging, comforting, and talking to Adeline. And then the world stopped…”
Adeline did not have to die. She should be here with us now, just as nearly 200,000 Americans should be. Her death was preventable.