For Tommy Scudero of East Williston, there is nothing more precious than the simple routines of daily life, an appreciation he developed following a near fatal cardiac arrest.
Despite a history of cardiac issues, including a triple bypass operation, Mr. Scudero, age 54, was doing well until one winter evening when he collapsed while getting ready for bed.
Tommy Scudero is fully recovered and enjoying life with his family including (back, l.-r.) son John, wife Johanna, and daughter Natalie.
“He just went down,” explains his wife, Johanna. “I tried to make him respond to me, but he wouldn’t.”
The local volunteer ambulance corps arrived within minutes of his wife’s phone call and provided emergency treatment for a life-threatening arrhythmia en route to NYU Winthrop’s Emergency Department.
Physicians determined that in his precarious condition, Mr. Scudero was a candidate for the Induced Hypothermia Protocol, a relatively new treatment for patients who experience cardiac arrest.
It involves slowly reducing the body’s temperature to 92? F in order to preserve as much brain function as possible and improve the chances for recovery.
“We moved to cool his body in addition to other supportive measures in order to give him the best chance for a full, meaningful recovery,” said John Shenouda, MD.
The next two days were crucial to achieving the protocol’s benefits, as NYU Winthrop’s ICU team slowly raised Mr. Scudero’s temperature back to the normal 98? F. Although Mr. Scudero was experiencing short-term memory loss, his family and the ICU team were overjoyed to see his positive response to treatment.
“I’ll never forget the moment when Mr. Scudero began to show signs of improvement,” said Patti McCumiskey, RN, Medical ICU nurse at NYU Winthrop, who played an instrumental role in his care. “The sedation was off, his body was warm, and suddenly, he blinked in response to my voice. A smile rushed over my face as I went to get the team. ‘He’s following commands, I’m sure of it!’ I said. I hugged his wife and knew everything was going to be alright.”
Mr. Scudero improved steadily during the next few days, regaining his memory. His cardiologists then began to uncover the cause of his cardiac arrest. Mr. Scudero had experienced ventricular fibrillation, a lethal heart rhythm. With the implantation of a cardiac defibrillator, Mr. Scudero’s heart now beats properly, and he was back at his job about four weeks later.
“Something like this makes you think,” Mr. Scudero says. “Everybody came together to help me. The nurses and everyone at NYU Winthrop were fantastic. I’m so grateful to have my ‘boring’ life back!”