In late March, Grasp Sgt. Manuel Salinas began having abdomen ache. He delay in search of medical care, pondering it wasn’t critical. However by March 31, the ache was unhealthy sufficient that Salinas, a U.S. Air Power Reserve recruiter stationed at Travis Air Power Base, went to David Grant Medical Heart. Little did he know that he would spend the subsequent 50 days within the hospital present process 12 lifesaving surgical procedures.

MSgt Salinas in U.S. Air Force uniform, American flag in background
U.S. Air Power MSgt. Salinas

Salinas suffers from hypertriglyceridemia, a situation that causes excessive ranges of triglycerides – a kind of fats – within the blood. Individuals with this ailment have an elevated danger of acute pancreatitis – a situation the place the pancreas turns into swollen over a brief time period. Salinas thought his abdomen ache was most likely brought on by pancreatitis because of the hypertriglyceridemia.

“I’ve had pancreatitis earlier than, and it felt like I had pancreatitis once more,” Salinas stated. “However whereas I used to be there, I advised the physician, ‘Hey, I feel this may be one thing extra than simply pancreatitis as a result of the ache is migrating to different components of my stomach.’”

A CT scan rapidly revealed that it was a reoccurrence of acute pancreatitis. Most individuals with acute pancreatitis absolutely get well. However for sufferers with hypertriglyceridemia, like Salinas, it may be far more critical. As acute pancreatitis progresses, blood strain drops because the physique focuses on retaining the mind and coronary heart alive by constricting blood circulation to different organs.

Such was the case with Salinas. His organs started shutting down, beginning along with his kidneys. Inside 24 hours, he was fading out and in of consciousness. His medical doctors really helpful he be transferred by way of helicopter to UC Davis Medical Heart to obtain specialised care. Salinas remembers waking up momentarily in what he describes as a “vessel of some type” earlier than dropping consciousness once more.

“I keep in mind seeing individuals with helmets on, and you recognize, the within of a spaceship is what I believed I remembered,” recalled Salinas with a chuckle. “I keep in mind any person lifting a plastic security button, hitting the crimson button and us taking off.”

The surgeon on name within the Division of Emergency Medication that evening was Rachel Russo, an assistant professor within the Division of Surgical procedure and a Main within the U.S. Air Power.

“When he got here in, his systolic blood strain was within the 50s,” Russo stated. “They have been minutes from beginning chest compressions on him. I instantly acknowledged that he wanted emergency surgical procedure and can be too sick to switch to the working room.”

UC Davis Well being workers instantly gathered the mandatory gear to function within the ICU – an uncommon occasion. This included stools to face on to accommodate for the upper, wider beds, headlamps to extend visibility and handheld instruments which are usually built-in into customary working rooms.

Rachel Russo

When he got here in, his systolic blood strain was within the 50s. They have been minutes from beginning chest compressions on him. I instantly acknowledged that he wanted emergency surgical procedure and can be too sick to switch to the working room.” Rachel Russo

Russo’s army expertise and participation within the 30- yr civilian-military partnership between UC Davis and David Grant Medical Heart performed a task in her readiness to adapt to the difficult circumstances. She, together with some members of the surgical crew – different present and former members of the army – introduced with them distinctive information from fight surgical procedure, enhancing their strategy to Salinas’ deteriorating situation.

12 life-saving surgical procedures

That evening, Russo carried out three surgical procedures on Salinas to take away components of his bowels which had change into necrotic and have been dying, attributable to his failing organs. She made an incision from the underside of Salinas’ sternum to the highest of his pubic bone and eliminated his colon. He wanted a number of blood transfusions, blood strain treatment, and intubation to assist him breathe.

MSgt Salinas while in a coma
An intubated Salinas in precarious state continues to be monitored whereas at UC Davis Medical Heart.

“When Dr. Russo referred to as the evening of the twond of April, she was fairly clear that he was very crucial,” recalled Cassandra Casul, Salinas’ finest buddy, who was stationed at Tinker Air Power Base in Oklahoma on the time. “She advised his father and me that she didn’t assume he was going to make it by the evening.”

Towards the chances, Salinas survived the evening. His situation improved slowly, and he remained in a coma for a couple of month, attributable to sedation and the trauma his physique had endured. Throughout that point, UC Davis Well being surgeons carried out a number of extra surgical procedures to his stomach to take away extra necrotic tissue.

When Dr. Russo referred to as the evening of the 2nd of April, she was fairly clear that he was very crucial. She advised his father and me that she didn’t assume he was going to make it by the evening.”Cassandra Casul

Waking up from a month-long coma

On April 28, 2022, Salinas awoke absolutely from the coma. It was a shock.

“I used to be like, ‘What!? Three weeks? 4 weeks? What are you speaking about?’”

Salinas remained within the hospital for an additional three weeks. After studying extra about his situation, how shut he had come to demise, and seeing images of himself whereas in a coma, Salinas skilled a type of post-traumatic stress dysfunction. He was positioned on antidepressants and anti-anxiety treatment.

Nonetheless, he feared being alone within the restoration room. He didn’t need the lights off, the door or curtains closed, nor did he need to go to sleep. He insisted on retaining the decision button shut, a lot in order that he couldn’t go to sleep with out it on his chest.

Casul stayed on the telephone with him for hours, assuring him each time he woke that he was alive and not in imminent hazard.

I used to be like, ‘What!? Three weeks? 4 weeks? What are you speaking about?’” U.S. Air Power MSgt. Salinas

An extended street to restoration

Salinas continues to be on the street to restoration. As soon as a strong man, he has misplaced a lot of his total bodily power. He needed to be taught to swallow once more, to choose up utensils and feed himself, and had problem speaking clearly attributable to a tracheotomy that had been carried out whereas in a coma. He additionally struggled to make use of a keyboard or to write down.

MSgt Salinas on his discharge day in a wheelchair, wrapped in blue blanket.
Salinas on discharge day after 50-day hospitalization exterior UC Davis Medical Heart

“There’s a image the place I used to be attempting to write down,” Salinas described. “It actually appears to be like worse than a kindergarten child. They have been extra like figures versus letters. It was so, so irritating.”

Salinas underwent a complete of 12 surgical procedures whereas at UC Davis Medical Heart. He returned almost two months after discharge for a 13th surgical procedure, when surgeons have been lastly in a position to shut the incisions made throughout his preliminary bowel surgical procedures. Russo stated they used a mesh, specialised dressings and pores and skin grafting on high of his bowels.

“Salinas was aided by civilian and army personnel sharing their experience,” Russo defined. “These have been expertise introduced again from wartime care.”

Now at dwelling, he depends closely on help from his father, Manuel Salinas Sr., who visits him regularly and gives bodily and emotional help. Salinas nonetheless has an ileostomy bag, (a bag connected to a gap close to the stomach in order that stool might be collected exterior the physique).

MSgt Salinas’ first attempts at writing
Salinas’ scribbles present his first annoyed makes an attempt at speaking by writing after waking from his coma 

He nonetheless wants yet another surgical procedure to take away the ileostomy bag and reconstruct his bowels. He isn’t able to retire, even after greater than 20 years of army service.

He’s grateful for the care he obtained at each Travis Air Power Base and UC Davis Medical Heart, and attributes his survival to the professional coordination between the 2 medical groups.

When requested in regards to the care he obtained at UC Davis Medical Heart, Salinas and his finest buddy Casul concurrently exclaimed that it was “Wonderful!”

“Dr. Russo’s crew on the evening of the twond of April, they saved his life. He was minutes from demise however that preliminary surgical procedure saved his life,” Casul stated.

UC Davis Well being and David Grant Medical Heart have partnered efficiently for over thirty years. By means of this civilian-military program, army surgical residents acquire publicity to trauma care by working alongside skilled UC Davis Well being physicians. Likewise, army physicians and surgeons who return from deployment work at UC Davis Medical Heart, bringing distinctive information from fight surgical procedure which they cross on to civilian scientific personnel by educating and mentorship.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *