December 05, 2023
During the early morning hours of Aug. 25, 2023, Mark Lonardo, age 64, a radiology technologist at Parkland Medical Center for the past nine years, began having difficulty breathing. Mark drove himself to Parkland’s Emergency Room, where he collapsed.
Parkland’s Emergency Room team found that Mark had aspirated and a pulmonary obstruction occurred. Several staff members who work with Mark knew he had a history of breathing problems, so they were able to convey this information to the care team. Michael Laidlaw, MD, a pulmonologist at Parkland, was brought in to provide a bedside scope to identify the obstruction, and remove enough of it to bring Mark’s oxygen level back up.
But it wasn’t enough.
The team determined that Mark’s best chance for survival was to go on Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation, or ECMO for short – which is an advanced therapy used to do the work of the heart and lungs when a patient’s own organs are not working properly. The Parkland care team immediately contacted Portsmouth Regional Hospital, where the ECMO team was activated and prepared for Mark. Because of inclement weather, transportation via helicopter was not an option, so Mark was transferred to Portsmouth via ambulance. Once at Portsmouth Regional Hospital, he was admitted to the ICU and was kept on ECMO for a couple of days.
Mark made tremendous progress over the next few days and was discharged from Portsmouth Regional Hospital less than week later.
Due to the quick response, expertise, availability of ECMO at Portsmouth Regional Hospital, and collaboration between the care teams (ER, Lab, Respiratory, Imaging, X-Ray, ECMO), Mark is doing very well. He recently came in to visit with some staff, and is grateful for the life-saving care his colleagues at Parkland and across the NH market at Portsmouth provided for him.
Thanks to the outstanding response and expert care provided to Mark, he was able to be at his daughter’s (Victoria) wedding four weeks later and play the piano as she walked down the aisle. He also returned to his position as radiology technologist at Parkland Medical Center just eight weeks later in late October.
Mark shared the following about his life-saving experience:
“From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank every colleague and care team staff member from Parkland Medical Center and Portsmouth Regional Hospital who played a vital role in saving my life. It truly is a miracle I am still here today and it’s because of the outstanding clinicians and care team experts who quickly went into action from the moment I arrived in the emergency room, to the moment I was put on ECMO, and ultimately discharged. As a person who has been in healthcare for 44 years, I cannot say enough about the collaboration, expertise, and compassion both hospitals provided me. Everything had to be perfect to keep me alive - and it was. I am truly forever grateful to everyone involved my care and because of the amazing care teams at Parkland and Portsmouth hospitals, I am here today to share my story proudly and with profound admiration for everyone who played a critical role in saving my life.”
Mark Lonardo (center front row sitting) and some of the staff who provided life-saving care for Mark.