Amy Byrnes had a busy couple of days in August of 2014. She flew in from California to Cleveland to attend a family reunion with her sister. “They said I had a good time, but I don’t remember anything,” says Byrnes. That’s because two days after the reunion on August 4, Byrnes had a cardiac arrest. She was out having breakfast with family when “I just went stiff,” Byrnes explains. “My sister thought I was having a seizure but then I was out. I was gone.” Luckily Byrnes’s sister knew CPR.
Byrnes was supposed to return to California the following day, but she ended up staying in Cleveland until the end of November. She was taken to University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute where she was in a coma for 10 days. After she came out of the coma from her cardiac arrest, blood clots were found in her lungs. In addition, she suffered from gastrointestinal bleeding. Both of these conditions kept her in the Intensive Care Unit. “Any one of these things could have killed me,” says the 60 year old who was raised in Eastlake. “UH is the reason why I’m still here.”
Byrnes is especially gratefully for the care and compassion the hospital staff showed her. “My husband died a couple years before of an abdominal aortic aneurism. She explains, “For my kids to go through this sudden thing...” her voice trails off. “I was really impressed by the care all of us received.”
Byrnes does not remember having any symptoms before her cardiac arrest. She had high blood pressure but did not have blockages in her arteries or high cholesterol. Byrnes says it was all electrical. “I had never even heard of that before it happened to me.” She needed to ask a lot of questions and says she was very impressed with how much patience everyone had with her. She says of Dr. Harish Manyam, who implanted her internal defibrillator, “He’s a busy doctor, but if I needed 20 minutes to ask him questions, he acted as though I was the only patient he ever had to see. He and Dr. David Zidar (the first doctor who cared for her in the ICU) really did take very good care of me and had the time to answer my questions.”
Byrnes is back home now and says these days she is “just kind of taking it easier.” She’s grateful every day for everyone who cared for her and the quality of care she received from University Hospitals.
As featured in the February 2015 issue of Cleveland Magazine
By Ruth Corradi Beach