Special Blood Drive Celebrates ‘A Miracle’

Post a Comment » Written on May 14th, 2009     
Filed under: News
WILMETTE, IL (May 14, 2009) – Medical personnel at Northwestern Memorial Hospital needed 40 units of blood to save the life of Dwight Samuelson on Saturday, March 21.

At Winnetka Covenant Church on Saturday, his friends donated 41 units to save the lives of people they will never meet.

The blood drive was held to honor Samuelson, 62, who not only survived a bleeding ulcer that no one knew he had, but also awoke from a coma to the surprise of physicians. From the time he first became ill until the blood drive, his family would learn how many friends Samuelson has around the world.

SamuelsonSamuelson worked at the local Chicago affiliate NBC-5 news station for 42 years until he retired, but he contracted to continue doing editing on Saturday mornings. That decision probably saved his life.

During the early morning shift he began to feel “excruciating pain.” Samuelson had been treated for shingles and thought the pain was related to that. He had no idea the pain reliever he was taking only made him sicker.

Suddenly, he coughed up a large amount of blood and fainted. Within a few minutes, however, he woke up not knowing what had happened. In a blog the family published to help friends follow Samuelson’s progress, co-worker Adriana Correa wrote: “All he wanted to do was get up and finish editing for the 9 a.m. show!”

An ambulance arrived and transported Samuelson several blocks to the hospital.
“Good thing I was at work,” Samuelson says. “It was only four minutes away from Northwestern.”

His condition deteriorated quickly, with blood filling two-thirds of his stomach, recalls his daughter, Barbara Nordlund. “He was bleeding so quickly the team of doctors could not find the source. The doctors worked 12 hours to save him.”

But Samuelson slipped into a coma, and doctors told the family that even if he survived, he probably would remain in a vegetative state. The blood loss had deprived his brain of oxygen for a significant period of time, and an EEG showed little activity.

He lay in intensive care for days and his condition only seemed to deteriorate. “His heart was barely pumping,” Nordlund notes. “Each day seemed like a new organ was having problems.”

“Even the doctors were saying it was miraculous.”

On March 28 – a week after he first entered the hospital – Samuelson was scheduled to have an MRI to better determine the damage to his brain. But then he surprised everyone.

“Suddenly, he woke up,” says Nordlund. “Even the doctors were saying it was miraculous.”

Within days he was speaking. Samuelson made such incredible progress, he soon returned home without needing to do any physical therapy at the hospital. A home nurse and physical therapist assisted him at home until May 1. The accompanying photo shows Samuelson completing a treadmill workout. Click here to see additional photos.

Nordlund says she is excited with the size of the turnout at the blood drive, which was held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Nearly a dozen other people volunteered to give blood, but were not able to due to medication or other issues.

Samuelson was left blind in his left eye, but he is thankful that is the apparent extent of any lasting damage. He also is grateful that so many friends prayed for him. Within days after the family first published the blog, it had received 30,000 hits, he says.

People from nearly every continent, including some with whom he had not spoken for years, wrote to say they were praying. “You don’t realize how much they’re concerned about you,” Samuelson says, still amazed at the response.

But not anymore amazed than they are with him.

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