Chicago Greeks will gather on October 21 for a fundraiser at the Diplomat West Banquets in Elmhurst, IL to assist Georgia Karas in her fight to recover. We spoke to her daughter Patricia about what happened, and what’s next.
This past April 10, Mom went out to celebrate her 50th birthday with her friends. She loved to dance, so a Greek dinner and dancing was definitely the plan. She got up for just one more dance before going home. She took the lead of the line, as she often does, and then fell to the floor. She was in cardiac arrest. Within minutes, the ambulance arrived. They managed to revive her, but as one episode ended, she’d have another cardiac arrest.
At the emergency room, we were told that the prognosis was bleak. They estimated that she’d experienced 10-15 minutes without oxygen to the brain – far more than the four minutes, of which is known to result in no brain damage.
Your mom has been beating the odds.
Initially, they said she wouldn’t make it through the night. She did. Then they said she wouldn’t open her eyes – but she did. Then doctors said there wasn’t going to be much brain function. However, further testing showed there was. In the ICU she was put on a hypothermia protocol to induce hypothermia – literally freezing her – to prevent further damage. Again, they said she wouldn’t survive that, but she did. She spent three weeks in intensive care. She loves life and isn’t giving up, and neither are we.
What type of therapy is she receiving now?
Because she was on a ventilator, she was then transferred to a long-term acute care hospital. There she was weaned off the ventilator and could breathe on her own – another milestone the doctors said was impossible. She no longer requires the use of the ventilator. Here she began her rehabilitation.
From there, it was on to a rehab facility, where she receives more physical, speech and occupational therapy, as well as sensory stimulation. Mom continues to make slight improvements – she can open eyes, look around, hear – though further recovery could take years, if ever. She cannot yet speak. She looks so beautiful. You wouldn’t know she is sick.
What’s the prognosis?
Since every patient is different, it’s hard for doctors to predict whether she can speak again and if so when. Recovery from brain damage can take years.
You found a therapy that might hasten her recovery.
We did some research, and discovered that there exists a hyperbaric oxygen therapy, that has been used with some success. We heard about a lady with a similar case that had 293 oxygen treatments and is now walking and talking again. Since the therapy hasn’t been tested extensively in cases of brain injury, it’s not covered by insurance. More studies are needed to make this a mainstream treatment. The cost for 40 treatments, including transportation by ambulance, is $30,000.
Though experimental, this treatment is her only chance for a real recovery. Otherwise, she will stay in the rehab center. Without the therapy, she could recover to some degree on her own, but to what extent and how long that would take, we really don’t know. She would want to take this chance. There’s a lot more living for her to do, and we are very optimistic.
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