Paula Schmith on the road to recovery

The story begins on November 13, 2015. My wife, Paula Schmith, went to her primary care doctor because she thought she had gall bladder problems. But when the doctor gave her an EKG, he said she was having a heart attack and needed to get to St Joe’s Hospital immediately. Upon arriving at St Joe’s, they ran tests and decided she had a major heart blockage and required a stent. After they did the stent, she came back from surgery and she had trouble breathing. Evidently, her heart muscles were torn and her lungs were filling up with blood. Dr. Stewart Finney advised us that she had about an hour to live if we did not get my wife to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center, as there was nothing more they could do for her. My wife never had any problems with her health. This was a shock to all of us.

We were counting on the team at University of Maryland. This is where Dr. Bradley Taylor’s team was waiting for my wife to do an emergency operation with a 15% chance of her making it through the operation. Things were desperate, and, quite frankly, the whole family was in total shock as to what was happening. About eight hours later, we were greeted by Dr. Taylor and his staff. They were pleased with the operation but said it would take time to see if things would progress in the right direction for her recovery.

There were no guarantees, but I had all the confidence in the world in Dr. Taylor and his staff. They were very sincere and caring while working towards the best result. The Intensive Care Unit took us in as if we were their family. They worked so hard with the house doctors and Dr. Taylor to pull her through. 

After approximately a week, they thought things were progressing well, and suddenly, another diagnosis. Her left ventricle and right ventricle were both leaking. 

They needed to do something quickly.

They decided to block these leaks with a balloon-type procedure with the assistance of another doctor who specialized in this procedure. Since they could not open her chest again this soon , they had to utilize this procedure. They did the operation, with Dr. Taylor assisting, and the hope was that this would fix the problem. 

Unfortunately, about a week later, it was determined that this did not work, as it did not fully seal the area. Since it was still too soon to cut her chest open again, a new game plan needed to be developed. Ultimately, it was decided she needed to go on an ECMO machine in order to save her life. 

At this point, her kidneys and liver were shutting down, and things were becoming bleak. As Dr. Taylor kept emphasizing, we needed these functions to come back in order to try another operation to save her. Fortunately, the man up above gave my wife a fourth chance to live as her functions came back in a couple of days. Dr. Taylor decided this was it - we had to open her up now in order for her to have any chance. 

They pulled her through the operation, and Dr. Taylor was amazed at the result. Needless to say, if it wasn’t for Dr. Taylor and his team, my wife would not be alive today.

My wife is a real fighter and very strong to live through these emergency operations. But without the University of Maryland’s full team pulling for my wife and doing everything possible to save her, I don’t think she would be here today. The man up above helped Dr. Taylor and his staff pull my wife through these difficult times and we will be forever grateful.

The University of Maryland’s team should be recognized for pulling off a miracle in saving my wife. They called her Mrs. Miracle, and she gives all the credit to the great team at the University of Maryland, and the man up above. She had an angel by her side the whole time talking to her, and telling her everything would turn out OK.

The sincere, genuine care of the University of Maryland staff helped our family pull through a very difficult time in our lives. We will be Grateful forever to Dr. Taylor and the University of Maryland team.

Presently, my wife is still doing physical therapy and occupational therapy but is progressing. She has gone from a wheel chair, to a walker, to a cane. When she meets with Dr. Taylor in August, she hopes to walk in his office without the cane. Our lives have been changed forever, but the good news is the University of Maryland played a major role in saving my wife’s life and we are truly grateful for that experience. She was in the hospital until the end of December 2015, and then she was sent to UM Rehab and Orthopaedic Institute for rehab. She is still doing rehab, but she is alive thanks to your great staff. It is indeed a miracle.


Martin E Schmith Jr. and family