“I didn’t know what was wrong with me.”
During the fall of 2022, Heather started to feel sick. At first it was minor shortness of breath, but as time passed, her symptoms worsened. “I wasn’t sure what was going on, but I also didn’t think it was anything serious.” After collapsing at home and being too weak to get up, she realized it was time to go the emergency room. Heather’s family called 911, and Kittitas Valley Fire & Rescue transported her to Kittitas Valley Healthcare where she stayed overnight.
“They were able to keep me comfortable, and I felt a little better, more stable.” But when her care team returned with her labs and CT scan results, they told a very different story.
Heather was experiencing respiratory and heart failure due to blood clots in both of her lungs and needed to be transferred to another hospital for emergency surgery. Due to the critical nature of her illness, Life Flight Network was requested to provide ICU-level care and rapid transport to Confluence Health in Wenatchee, Washington. “Life Flight Network is an important member of our team as they provide our patients with rapid access to state-of-the-art trauma and medical care,” said Dede Utley, Chief Nursing Officer at Kittitas Valley Healthcare.
After a smooth, 17-minute flight on a beautiful day in central Washington, Heather arrived at Confluence Health where she underwent an emergency pulmonary thrombectomy that saved her life. “The crew was amazing; they did everything they could to keep me comfortable during the ride. That was my first time in a helicopter—something that had always been on my bucket list.”
Seven months post-surgery, Heather has made a full recovery. We are happy to report that she is back to being active with her family and has returned to caring for her community as a licensed practical nurse. “My heart has returned to its normal size and function. I will be on blood thinners for the rest of my life, but I am alive. Thank you, Life Flight Network.”