As Everett’s Robert Pasquariella lay in a hospital bed through September of 2009 in an induced coma, there wasn’t much hope for him.
Even his family had become resigned to the worst.
Nothing short of a miracle was going to save him.
He had been under three weeks.
The swelling in his chest was so severe that his chest was still open and his family members could see his heart beating.
Four times his wife had been called in the middle of the night as doctors didn’t figure Pasquariella would make it to the morning.
Faced with no other option, the family and doctors decided to try a new, experimental heart pump manufactured by Abiomed – the Impella 5.0.
“They had no choice,” said Pasquariella on Monday. “I was going to die anyway. They decided, given the circumstances, to try out this new pump on me. What it did was give my heart a rest. The liver, kidneys and organs got all the blood they needed and my heart was able to relax and heal. While that was happening, they didn’t know what the end result would be. Soon, the swelling went down and they closed me up and I was getting better. However, they didn’t know if I would be vegetable or have other complications. When I came out of it, though, immediately I was normal. They called me the miracle man in the hospital.
“Now, six years later, I am not on any heavy medications,” he continued. “I have no side effects. All I take is a blood pressure pill. I’ve been great every since I woke up. I can’t say enough about that pump and the technology that went into it.”
Literally, Pasquariella cannot say enough and he speaks about the device every chance he can get. The Spring Street resident has spoken at seven seminars, including one at Boston’s Liberty Hotel last year. Today, Aug. 12, he will be on hand at Fenway Park to take part in Abiomed’s Mobile Learning Lab truck. During the stop, doctors, nurses and staff will have the opportunity to learn about the Impella. They’ll also be able to hear Pasquariella’s story and how the pump saved his life.
The Impella 5.0 pump was invented by a German scientist and picked up by Abiomed. It is the smallest heart pump on in the world, and is designed to be inserted through the leg. It takes over the pumping function of the heart for patients in severe cardiac emergencies, such as Pasquariella.
In 2009, Pasquariella, then 69, said he had no idea that he had cardiac issues.
He had a small heart attack, and went to his doctor to get it checked out. At his doctor’s office, he suffered a severe heart attack and was rushed to the Mass General Hospital.
After testing, he was found to have three severe blockages and there was a very bad infection around his heart, causing fluid to build up.
“It was one of the worst cases they had ever seen, and the reason I didn’t know about it was because my heard had made it’s own artery,” he said. “The body does that. So, I was getting all the blood I needed and then it just hit me all the sudden – boom. When I was in surgery, they found out about how bad this was. My heart was so weak that they weren’t sure I was going to make it. That’s when they put me in the coma.”
For Pasquariella, he had no idea all of this was going on.
However, his family was put t
hrough quite a trial over those three weeks. It was only after they tried the pump that hope began to flow again.
And when Pasquariella woke up, he had to be told the amazing story.
“I was surprised when I woke up,” he said. “When I came to, I thought I was just waking up from the operation. I had no idea I had been in a coma for three weeks. They said, ‘He’s awake, He’s awake.’ I said, ‘Yea, so what?’ Then they told me everything that happened. It was amazing to me. I cannot say enough about that pump. It did the job and it saved my life.”
Pasquariella was the first patient in Massachusetts to use the Impella 5.0 heart pump.