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| This has been a busy year for Rosie Coleman of Sherwood.
Despite restrictions from an ongoing global pandemic, the 40-year-old retired educator published a children’s book, provided private lessons, and flew to Boston for dinner with the CEO of a medical technology for which she is now a star patient.
Without the foresight and swift actions of Jay K. Bhama, MD, a cardiac surgeon at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, she likely wouldn’t have lived to see 2021.
Coleman, 64, visited UAMS in November 2020 after being short of breath, to find out she had congestive heart failure.
Because she also suffered from atrial fibrillation, coronary artery disease and hypertension, she was recommended to undergo coronary artery bypass grafting. However, due to elevated liver enzymes, she was sent home for rest before surgery to reduce the risk of bleeding.
She returned to UAMS for a high-risk quadruple bypass surgery on December 11, during which Bhama also repaired her tricuspid and mitral valves and completed a procedure to treat her atrial fibrillation. While weaned from the bypass, Coleman suffered cardiogenic shock, in which the heart suddenly failed to pump enough blood around the body.
Bhama, head of the cardiac surgery division at UAMS College of Medicine, regularly uses a device called the Impella 5.5 heart pump to temporarily help pump blood through the body while bypassing the left ventricle, which is responsible for pumping blood. oxygenated throughout the body. . While the device usually provides temporary assistance, Bhama tried a new technique he had studied and allowed the device to stay in Coleman’s chest after the surgery.
This allowed the left ventricle to rest for three days, after which Bhama removed the device at the patient’s bedside, without the need for further surgery, sparing Coleman’s body additional stress. She remained in the hospital for 21 days and returned home with normal heart function.
Coleman, who retired three years earlier as executive director of elementary education for the North Little Rock School District, later learned how close to death she was, if not for the tiny motorized pump that, inserted into her aorta through a catheter, kept her blood flowing while her heart rested.
“Although cardiogenic shock is rare, it is often fatal if not treated immediately,” Bhama said. “By being able to use this device immediately, keep it in place for an extended period of time, and avoid having another surgery to remove it, we avoided serious progressive damage to other organs and allowed his muscle weak heart to rest. “
After a recovery period that included weeks of outpatient rehab sessions, Coleman was thrilled to fly to Boston, the headquarters of Abiomed, a medical device supplier that touts the Impella device as “the smallest heart pump in the world. ”, To share his story with others. and visit the city.
Back in Arkansas, Coleman met with a UAMS dietician to learn how to gain weight in a healthy way. It was quite a change for the woman who had lost 225 pounds in the past three and a half years. She said UAMS doctors told her after the operation that at 125 pounds she now weighs too little.
Beyond medical issues, the former educator, whose career included 13 years as principal of Meadow Park Elementary School, was also eager to resume her mission of ensuring adequate educational opportunities for underprivileged children. She finished writing and editing her 27-page illustrated paperback, “Give Me A Chance,” which was published by Christian Faith Publishing in Virginia, and spent part of her summer tutoring. to a fifth year student who was in second year. academically.
The book tells the story of two brothers, one starting kindergarten and the other starting fourth grade, whose potential is ignored because they are poor and raised by an irresponsible mother. Then they receive help from a kind teacher who understands the importance of children meeting their basic needs so that they can learn – a message Coleman has tried to convey throughout his educational career.
Now Coleman says, “I’m working on my second book,” through which she wants to convey Christian messages as encouragement to young people.
“I just have life now, so I’m able to do a lot of things that I probably couldn’t have done before,” she says. “You have to be faithful and you have to move on. “
After her last exam at the end of September, her cardiologist, Srikanth Valluruapalli, MD, associate professor at UAMS, said: “Ms. Coleman has recovered well from her operation. With a combination of excellent medical therapy and cardiac rehabilitation, she is active and enjoying life to the fullest.
Coleman says she is grateful to everyone at UAMS for the skills and ingenuity that saved her life; the kindness that helped her stay positive while in hospital, when she was unable to receive visitors; and continuing care.
She calls Bhama “a gifted surgeon,” adding, “He is very talented, but he also has a heart. You can be the most gifted person in the world, but if you don’t know how to be nice, that doesn’t mean anything.