National Doctors' Day: Michigan woman honors physician who saved her life

31-year-old mother was under ECMO, highest level of life support for 19 days
Posted at 10:58 PM, Mar 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-30 22:58:59-04

WARREN, Mich. (WXYZ) — Today is National Doctors' Day and if you haven’t already then, it's a great time to join hands with many across the country to thank physicians for their service, skill, and compassion, especially during times when people may lose hope.

7 Action News Reporter, Faraz Javed visited Ascension Macomb-Oakland Hospital in Warren where a 31-year-old patient honored her doctor for saving her life.

After being diagnosed with a severe case of pneumonia, Katy Vandeneynde was placed under ECMO, the highest level of life support for a total of 19 days, a condition that Dr. Schreiber describes as beyond critical.

"She needed artificial lungs to provide oxygen for her body, and without the ECMO circuit, when she was sent over, she would have passed on within hours," said Dr. Theodore Schreiber, Interventional Cardiology & Internal Medicine, Ascension Health System.

But that was just one of the hurdles. When Katy woke up from her medically induced coma, she had to fight a new set of challenges.

"I had to relearn how to walk, talk and swallow, I had to do some strength training, I lost about 40 lbs of muscle mass while I was in a coma," said Katy Vandeneynde, ECMO patient.

That’s why this mother of an 8-year-old is extremely grateful to Dr. Schreiber and the rest of the Ascension medical staff for giving her a second chance at life.

"I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you did to make sure that I am able to be here today and for continuing with my journey and for getting my health back, and for making sure that little girl gets to make fun of me every day," said Katy Vandeneynde, ECMO patient.

And when it’s the annual national Doctor’s Day, a group thank you hug becomes essential.

"He is never getting rid of us now," said Katy Vandeneynde, ECMO patient.

"When I grow up, he is going to be my doctor," said Lilly, Katy's 8-year-old daughter.

At present, Katy's health is keeping well. The 31-year-old is back at her job bartending but looking at life through a positive lens.

"It could have disappeared all so quickly, and daughter wouldn't have gotten her mother back and my mom wouldn’t have her daughter back, and knowing that I have this team of people who fought day in day out, and made sure I had the best fighting chance that I could," said Katy Vandeneynde, ECMO patient.

Katy would also like to create awareness about two things, 1, health is wealth, so never delay in seeking that medical attention, and 2, always show your appreciation to the medical staff because they truly are a team of unsung heroes.