A team of nurses raced to save a life at Ascension Providence but the patient was one of their own. Oncology nurse Litonya Bennett, 55, was at work when she collapsed on the job. She doesn’t remember what happened that day, but her husband, Tyrone Bennett, remembers getting the call that his wife was incapacitated.
Bennett said she was taking care of patients when her fellow nurses called her to the nurse’s station.
“They were like, ‘Hey, come up front!’” Litonya Bennett told Click On Detroit. “They said as I got right up to the nurse’s station, I just collapsed.”
But thankfully, she was in the right place at the right time. The other nurses immediately jumped in and started performing CPR, which lasted 48 minutes.
“When they got to 30 minutes of CPR, the doctor said ‘Hey, what do you guys think? What do you want to do? Do you want to call it?’ Everybody was like, ‘no, no,’” Bennett added.
The nurse couldn’t believe she came so close to losing her life.
“The reason that she was able to survive was that she got immediate care on the floor in the hospital,” said Dr. Kristopher George, chairman of cardiothoracic surgery of Ascension Providence. “I was in an operating room doing heart surgery on a different patient. And I got a call that one of our nurses was in serious trouble.”
The staff put her on an ECMO machine, which not all area hospitals have. “ECMO, which is extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. The machine circulates blood outside the body, providing oxygen and removing carbon dioxide,” George said.
Bennett ultimately spent two weeks in the hospital ICU before she could go home. But the staff gave her a heartwarming send-off right before her departure.
“I’ve been to three doctor’s appointments. Every time I’ve been in any one of them, they call me their miracle,” said Litonya Bennett.
“I just thank God that it happened here,” said Tyrone Bennett. “We were at the park yesterday and we were looking at the water. I couldn’t imagine her not being here, but I do know that we believe in God. We believe in the doctors that were here.”
George added that Bennett was extremely lucky to survive, considering heart disease kills more people every year than all forms of cancer combined.
“It starts with going to your primary care physician and knowing things about your blood pressure, your heart rate, your heart sounds if they hear murmurs, things like that. Getting an EKG there are signs of heart trouble, then following up very carefully with a cardiologist,” the doctor said.
“Every day is precious, you know, so make every day count,” said Litonya Bennett.
Bennett’s husband recently created a GoFundMe to help the family pay for medical bills.
“Now, in the calm before the storm, we are facing a daunting challenge,” Tyronne wrote on his wife’s fundraising page. “Medical bills have already begun coming in. While I am temporarily unable to work as I care for my wife, we find ourselves uncertain of how we will manage to cover our daily needs, let alone the mounting medical expenses.”