The family of a 33-year-old Cayman man is rejoicing after the Health City Cayman Islands medical team brought him back from the brink of death. Bjorn Ebanks survived an episode during which his heart stopped twice and he underwent CPR for almost 90 minutes before being placed on life support.
Mr. Ebanks, who needed an emergency surgery to remove a dangerous blood clot from his lungs, was operated on by a team that included Dr. Binoy Chattuparambil, Health City’s chief cardiac surgeon, according to a press release from the health facility.
Mr. Ebanks was saved by a rare procedure called ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation) life support, which involves channeling the patient’s blood into a roller pump that serves as the patient’s “heart.” A few of the medical professionals thought it might be too late to save Mr. Ebanks with that procedure, but Dr. Chattuparambil was clear that it might be their only hope.
“I told them, if you are not doing it, it’s 100 percent death,” he said in the release. “If you are doing it then maybe one percent … for that patient it’s the only chance.”
Mr. Ebanks went into cardiac arrest before arriving at Health City, and resuscitation efforts began in the ambulance and continued when he was brought into triage.
Dr. Dhruva Kumar Krishnan, the senior consultant in cardiac anesthesiology and intensive care at Health City, recalled the extensive resuscitation efforts that were in play for Mr. Ebanks.
“We went on for close to 90 minutes,” said Dr. Krishnan. “He did come back two times and then we sort of lost [him] so we continued the cardiopulmonary resuscitation and Dr. Binoy walked in and he decided that we should try the ECMO.”
Team members performed heart massage to keep Mr. Ebanks alive during the procedure.
“You should have seen the whole team,” Dr. Binoy said. “Everyone is up in there doing the massage on one side while we instituted the ECMO to the groin, which took me about 20 minutes.”
Mr. Ebanks was shifted to the intensive care unit after the ECMO machine did its work, as the medical staff tried to figure out what caused his heart to stop originally.
The patient had previously been diagnosed with clots in his leg veins, and after a CT scan, he was found to have blood clots completely blocking both lung arteries. That condition necessitated another complicated surgery called a pulmonary endarterectomy.
“We had to cool the body to 20 degrees centigrade. I had to drain all the blood from the body, open both lung arteries and remove the clots from both sides,” Dr. Binoy recalled.
Dr. Binoy said that only 10 to 20 hospitals in the world have managed to do that procedure, and he said he’s sat in on around 300 cases of the rare operation while working in India.
“I’m very happy about the outcome,” he said. “It’s kind of bringing him from the grave back to life … he is such a young man. It would have been very easy to say he had cardiac arrest and that after 45 minutes nothing more could be done. But we took that one percent chance when we decided to put him on ECMO and decided to do the surgery.”
Mr. Ebanks said after his recovery that he was thrilled to have the medical attention that he needed and grateful for the extra lengths that Health City went to in order to keep him alive.
“Dr. Binoy is a good doctor,” he said in the release. “He is one of the best, I would say. Most doctors would probably have given up and said ‘alright, I’m gone.’ This is a good facility, real good facility … people in here are good too and they treat you well … I’m just grateful that I am here and I can have another chance to see my family.”