On March 28, 2020, my husband Ken Dvorak suffered a near fatal injury when a mirror he was disposing at a landfill shattered, severing the radial artery in his right wrist. Due to the profuse bleeding, he knew he had little time and instinctively took life saving measures. He pressed his left thumb into the pulsating artery, jumped into his car, called 911, and drove with his knees out of the landfill towards the local firehouse while also directing the fire medic, via 911 dispatcher, to drive towards him. I find it to be no coincidence that they intersected at a church parking lot. It seems so surreal, but it happened.
When Ken arrived at the trauma center, he was in Stage 4 of hypovolemic shock. His blood pressure was in the low 40’s, he had lost approximately 50% of his blood, and he had decreased cardiac output. When I arrived, he was conscious and surrounded by 7 or 8 nurses and doctors who were intently focused on caring for him. I recall seeing lots of blood, rags of blood on the floor, blood on scrubs, blood on my husband…I saw the gash on his wrist and the nurse’s hand holding it so tightly. He was so pale, his lips were blue, yet he remained strong…I told him that I loved him and that I was sorry for not being there to help him. As they quickly worked to transport him to surgery, I was advised that Ken had severed an artery and there was a chance he may not survive. It felt so surreal, but it happened.
Ken did survive that freak accident. The surgeon was able to repair his artery, tendons, joints, nerves, etc. and although it would take 5-6 months to completely recover, he was essentially fine and came home from the hospital the very next day. There were many lifesaving decisions and actions by so many that day, Ken himself, the 911 dispatcher, paramedics, doctors and nurses and I am eternally grateful to them all, however, blood is what ultimately saved his life. Repeatedly I see memories shared by Ken, images of two IV lines attached to bags of blood being squeezed with blood pressure cuffs to increase the rate of infusion. It sounds so surreal, but it happened.
My husband is one of the 4.5 million Americans who didn’t die this year because complete strangers donated their blood. We are so very grateful to the donors who saved his life, my husband was moments away from death, but now he is fine. It was real, but it didn’t happen!