When family history plays a role, life can be at risk in an instant.
One morning while at home recently with his eight-year-old daughter Layla,
Phillip Desmuke experienced mild leg pain. He sat down to ice his leg
when the pain suddenly vanished and seconds later he felt a flutter in
his heart. He had to catch his breath.
As a nurse and knowing his family has a history of blood clots, he realized
how serious this could be, but he didn’t want to panic his daughter.
Phillip calmly told Layla that she might need to call 911; he was feeling
weird, but he would be ok. He took some deep breaths and tried to relax.
Soon after, he felt dizzy and a stronger fluttering. He began panting
Phillip told Layla to get help, and then he was unable to speak. After
that, he was vaguely aware of what was happening: the sirens and a sense
of help coming, hearing the EMTs and firefighters, being put on the gurney,
and Layla in the ambulance with him.
Phillip was fortunate. Help arrived fast because he lives right down the
street from USC Arcadia Hospital, where he was taken
When he arrived at the Hollfelder Emergency Care Center he was temporarily
stable, no pain or stress while they examined him. Then he couldn’t
catch his breath at all. His eyes opened and he asked for help. He tried
to stay calm, knowing from his training what might be happening. Then
he blacked out.
When he woke up the next day in the ICU, he asked about Layla and what
had happened to him. The doctors explained that he had a life-threatening
pulmonary embolism, or blood clot, which stopped his heart. He had almost
died and was saved by the quick work of the emergency department team
restarting his heart and giving him the tPA clot-buster medication - and
his daughter who called 911.
Phillip’s collapse happened at the height of the pandemic surge,
and the ICU attending doctor commented that his survival was one of the
few good things that happened that day.
The ongoing care he received at USC Arcadia Hospital was good - very good.
They didn’t just accommodate him, they went out of the way to make
his stay better at every step while he recovered. They took pride in their
work. As a nurse himself, he has high standards, and they were met above
He was especially impressed with the diligence of the discharge nurse;
she checked everything as they were preparing to send him home and discovered
that he also had bacterial pneumonia. What could have been dangerous while
healing from his near-death experience was easily treated.
Blood clots run in Phillip’s family; one of his brothers died from
the condition and another recovered, but he never thought it would happen
to him. Before he left, hematologist Kelly Yap, M.D. took the time to
provide extra information to help him understand how to better manage
the condition in the future not just for himself, but his entire family.
Phillip was empowered by the peace of mind she brought him.
He was glad to go home after four days. He had felt powerless in the face
of his illness, and the possibility that it could strike his family again.
Now, he feels energized and ready to heal.
Your donation today saves or changes a life tomorrow. Please consider making
a gift in support of USC Arcadia Hospital as soon as you can. You never
know who you will help. It might be your teacher, your mayor, your grandfather,
or even you.
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