April 7, 2014

The Worst Nightmare

We have replaced the age old fear of being buried alive with a new one.

Paralyzed stroke victim experiences every patient's worst nightmare as he hears doctors discussing whether to donate his organs but couldn't speak out.  While on an outing with his family on the Gothenburg archipelago, Jim Fritze suffered a brain hemorrhage.

'I managed to catch my girlfriend's attention - I was bright red in the face, and she's a nurse so she managed to keep my airways open,' Mr Fritze said.  An air ambulance was unable to land on the island, so he had to wait nearly two hours to reach Sahlgrenska hospital by boat.

[He lay] paralyzed in hospital and listened in horror as doctors discussed organ donation with his family after telling them he would not survive.  Jimi Fritze, 43, heard every word but couldn't protest because he was unable to speak.

His heartbroken relatives had come to say their final goodbyes after doctors said brain scans showed he had 'no hope' of pulling through.  As they surrounded his hospital bed, doctors asked the family about the possibility of donating his organs when he died, not realising Mr Fritze could also hear the conversation.

Mr Fritze said: 'Only my ears and eyes were working. They (the doctors) told my girlfriend that there was no hope'.

But three days later another doctor who had returned from holiday gave more positive prognosis.  Mr Fritze said: 'She looked at my scans and said "This doesn't look too bad" and told the staff to give me cortisone to bring down the swelling in my brain.'

It took another three weeks before he could communicate his horror to his family and more than two years on he has only just recovered enough to take action against the hospital.  He has sent an official complaint to the health and welfare board, which oversees quality of healthcare in Sweden.
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Posted by Jill Fallon at April 7, 2014 11:34 AM | Permalink