Posted by: Audrey Erbes | February 9, 2009

How a Conscientious Stent Sales Rep Saved a Mother’s Life

I received this touching story of a local medical emergency a year ago  from one of my former colleagues. I thought you might like to hear about yet another favorable story about how those of us in the life science industry help people.

How A Stent Sales Rep Saved a Mother’s Life

The call came in around 4 PM on President’s Holiday, Monday February 18th, 2008…

Ambulance Driver : ”Your mom has been in an auto accident.”

Adult Daughter: “Is she ok?”

Ambulance Driver: “It was a slow speed accident…we are taking her to the hospital to get

checked out….she wants you to meet her there…..” Within that hour, I traveled 40 miles to the hospital to learn that mom had a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), a diagnosis the ER Doc stated, had a greater than 90% mortality rate. I raced to mom’s bedside, with cell phone in hand, calling my husband, all my siblings & our clergy friend enroute. Mom immediately dictated to me a “To Do” list…”I need you to move my appointment with the tax accountant, move the appointment with the Trust attorney, Vicki is going to Paris and needs to be ticketed, and on and on.” I knew I had to write quickly, but carefully, as I knew in my heart, I might not have a chance to clarify any of these instructions. I had a 4 color pen. I switched colors every time she switched instructions. It was surreal. I watched her blood pressure drop to 50/30 on the TV monitor above her head and wondered just how long she would be able to continue with the “To Do” list. She never lost consciousness. She did not know the diagnosis. I was sort of amused as she asked each Doctor who presented, where they had gone to medical school, done their residency etc. I hoped to God she liked their answers, as there were no second choices……

Thank goodness for the series of miracles which immediately followed —

• A surgeon whose expertise with aorta repairs happened to be in ICU visiting a patient he had operated on the week before when the emergency call for mom went out on the loud speaker…he was not on duty, but came to the ER and told me he would take this case.

• Thank goodness this surgeon knew & had participated in a “Stent Conference” the week

prior in Burlingame, the same city as the tiny community hospital mom was at & knew the Stent sales rep had stuck around for the President’s holiday weekend to tour

SF…and that the Stent rep was staying at the local Hyatt. Since AAA repairs are not

normally done at Peninsula Hospital, the hospital did not have the life saving Stent parts

mom desperately needed. The surgeon called the hotel and immediately the rep traveled

to the hospital from the local Hyatt, with his “sample stents” that would fit mom.

• Yes, the ER doc, surgeon and anesthesiologist all told us the diagnosis was grave and

the mortality rate exceeded 90%. I thought to myself, don’t they realize, “Mom has a “To

Do” list…this 90+% mortality rate must certainly be referring to someone else.”

The surgery was a success. The recovery was long, though not without complications…72 days in the hospital & subsequent rehab center. From February to June, the family’s focus was on getting mom back on her feet. The prayers and good wishes of all our family and friends worked. Mom returned to work on June 2nd, albeit part time. She is amazing.

The moral of this ordeal…always, always keep a “To Do” list….. And thank God for a conscientious medical representative.

The author notes you can see why the rep really saved my mom’s life.  I never met the guy and never got to thank him, but I hope some how he found out.


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