Is Saving One Life at a Time Worth It?

Interns with A Promise to Amanda Foundation (www.promisetoamanda.org) think so.

This Foundation was established by Cindy and Brian Abbiehl in memory and honor of Amanda. As they describe:

Amanda “was admitted to a local hospital on Thursday, July 15, of 2010.  She was dehydrated, had lost at least 10 pounds, and had a virus that was causing a great deal of pain in her mouth and throat. Our family physician’s plan was to rehydrate her and put her on antibiotics for both viral and bacterial infection.  This was to help jump start her system and hopefully she would be back home with us in a couple days.

“The rest of Thursday was a rough day for Amanda. The morphine that the hospital staff was giving her was not getting rid of the pain. Moreover, Amanda’s tonsils and uvula were extremely swollen. She was still not interested in eating; even drinking hurt. To help manage her pain, Amanda was put on a PCA pump that allowed her to control the pain medication used (hydromorphone).

“The next morning Amanda was found unresponsive and died.”

The three interns are Alicia Buford, Kara Scheer, and Tim Wong.

Amanda’s best friend, Alicia Buford, will be a starting junior in college. Her work with A Promise to Amanda Foundation is a stark reminder that, if Amanda was alive today, she too would be attending college.

Alicia explains her motivation for being an intern:

 When I think of the word best friend, the first name I think of is Amanda. She was the most caring, loving, friendliest, joyful, carefree, and full of life person I knew. She would do absolutely anything for someone; she would drop everything she was doing to make sure that person was ok.

When the tragedy of losing my best friend on July 17th 2010 happened, I simply couldn’t believe it. She was such a strong person, all I could keep thinking is why her? Why do the good always die young?

Some days it is still hard for me to accept that she is gone, but helping the Foundation is helping to heal my pain, as well as prevent this from happening to someone else’s best friend, daughter, cousin, or sister. 

Amanda is my guardian angel and my motivation – she keeps me going day after day. I know she would be doing the same exact thing if this would of happened to any of her friends.

Kara just graduated from University of Notre Dame, where as a student she has researched and planned a campaign to encourage all patients using PCA to be monitored with capnography. Kara brings first-hand knowledge of the class assignment, as well as web development expertise. As Kara explains:

I feel that it is important to remember how much good can come from helping a cause like this. I have always been personally motivated by the positive change that I — because of my education and talents — can bring to the world. After hearing Amanda’s story and the goals of the foundation, I knew that working with this foundation would become a work of passion. I believe strongly in the importance of standing up for change and am proud to be a part of a foundation that is tirelessly working to save lives.

Tim is a first year college student studying psychology with a heavy emphasis on the sciences.  Tim describes what his internship means for him:

It’s frightening to think that what happened to Amanda could happen to anyone entering a hospital for pain relief — healthy or not, old or young. Between field hockey and cross-country, and even just being a kid, my sister is always at risk of injury.  To think that it could have been my sister lying in a hospital bed in pain, needing pain relief, and then dying because of some simple injury or illness is unimaginable. So, when I heard Amanda’s story, I wanted to help in every way I could. What if that was my sister, my friend, my teacher? I would never want to see a life lost without doing everything I can to prevent it. So yes, saving one life at a time, whether it’s my loved one or another’s, is worth it.

So, these interns also asked what motivates me?

I started the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety (PPAHS) at the suggestion of some physician friends who felt that I should “get more involved”. This made me think of the many other healthcare matters that I have been involved with such as smoking cessation, MS, hepatitis, pain … could I do more?

Shortly after conferring with my physician friends, I mentioned this to Howard Snitzer. Howard survived 96 minutes without a heart beat. After speaking with Howard, I knew what could be the first PPAHS initiative. The paramedics who rescued Howard had used capngoraphy which determined that he was still exhaling carbon dioxide. Capnography is standard equipment in operating rooms around the world – why wasn’t it standard equipment outside of the operating room?

Howard said to me, if we can save a life, then it’s worth it:

If even one other person is helped by this then all the efforts that went into my rescue were worth it. I hope that this helps thousands.

And, while Howard is now busy (thankfully) with his new job as chef at a beautiful hotel resort in Arizona, I keep what he said to me to heart — a little effort to save a life; yes, that’s worth it!

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