A team of doctors at Stony Brook University Hospital saved her life not once, not twice, but six times – and now, Carin Navratil has found a way to give back to the hospital that saved her life.
The Farmingville resident was 22 years old when she suffered what doctors believed was at least one blood clot that had gotten into her lungs, causing her to lose lung and heart function.
“I am so grateful to all the staff who saved my life and took such great care of me,” Navratil said. “I wanted to give back to Stony Brook, because without their care and support, I wouldn’t be here.”
Now, Navratil now works as a volunteer in the respiratory unit, where her responsibilities include making copies, stocking supply shelves, and assisting at the nurses’ station. But it was a long road to get to that point.
Two years ago in August, Navratil, who was working as a preschool teacher, awoke one morning feeling weak and short of breath, and collapsed when she tried to get up. According to the hospital, in the ambulance en route to the hospital she "coded" – meaning immediate lifesaving action was needed – and she arrived at the hospital without vital signs.
Clinical assistant Jose Rivera performed CPR for most of the time and Dr. Peter Viccellio and Dr. Asher Baer also stepped in to help revive her. Navratil coded six times – and was resuscitated six times.
“I was fairly certain she wasn’t going to make it,” said Dr. Viccellio, clinical director of the Emergency Department. “It’s really a miracle that she did.”
Dr. Carl Tack performed the lifesaving procedure. According to the hospital, that involved inflating a balloon in the pulmonary artery to create a channel of blood flow, then using Angiojet to remove a small amount of the clot – which stabilized her blood pressure. A thrombolytic infusion of TPA removed almost the entire clot over the next 24 hours, and the next day, Tack implanted an IVC filter to prevent future clots.
But Navratil's ordeal was not over.
Dr. Rajeev Patel and Dr. Daniel Lozeau cared for her while she spent a month in a coma in the medical intensive care unit, then another month in the respiratory care unit. She had also been blinded by the lack of oxygen caused by the clot in her lung and her heart stopping. She was later transferred to a rehabilitation center, where she spent another month recovering and re-learning how to walk.
It took nearly four months until Navratil returned home in November of 2010.
“I think it’s really important to celebrate this case,” Tack said. “This is a miracle. I’ve seen 10 miracles in my life, and this ranks as number two. Considering everything she went through, she’s a total success.”