Multiple Gunshot Wound Patient's Life is Saved by Unorthodox Blood Clotting Treatment
Jenny Dull met her husband, Jack, when he fixed a plumbing problem in her Westminster home almost a decade ago. When they eventually married, Jack became an instant father and grandfather. Jenny had three children from a previous marriage and the two older children lived on their own. Ten-year-old Jennifer lived with Jenny and Jack.
On the surface they are an average Carroll County family. Jack begins attending church, and with encouragement from Jenny, becomes a deacon. The couple purchases a farm in Manchester, which Jack spends time restoring. On a muggy evening in July, Jenny returns from a long day at her secretarial position and is tired. With Jennifer away for the night at a relative's, Jenny and Jack decide to relax by watching television in the living room and going to bed early.
A noise awakens Jenny and she rolls over in bed to see if Jack is still in the room. He is. He has a gun and it is pointed at Jenny. She hears the gun discharge eight times and realizes that she has been shot in the head, chest, abdomen, and leg. She cannot breathe. She asks Jack for help as she slides to the floor. Instead, Jack leaves the bedroom. A moment later he returns, and Jenny hopes that he has returned to help her. Instead, he locks the door, sits down next to Jenny, and tries to reload the gun. In frustration, Jack beats Jenny in the head with the butt of the gun. She hears one more shot as Jack fires a bullet into his own head and collapses next to her.
All Jenny can hear is Jack's raspy breath. The portable phone is within reach and she manages to dial 911. Paramedics arrive on the scene and very quickly assess the grave situation. Jenny does not realize that Jack is already dead.
The ground unit calls for a med-evac to transport Jenny to the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center. Jenny arrives just under the "golden hour" and she is admitted exactly one hour after she and her husband walked peacefully down the hall to the bedroom.
Upon admission, Jenny is cold and clammy and is bleeding to death. The trauma team is challenged by Jenny's multiple gunshot wounds. There is no time for a CT scan but an ultrasound and two X-rays show the bullets' trajectories. Within minutes, Jenny is in the operating room. Despite the team's efforts, the bleeding will not stop. The injuries will not permit Jenny's blood to clot, but she manages to survive through the night. Physicians pump 130 units of blood product into her veins, but her heart pumps out every unit as fast as it goes in.
The surgeons and radiologists have tried everything to stop the bleeding. Jenny is dying and nothing is working. A senior surgeon is called in and after a quick assessment decides that traditional solutions would not suffice. A decision is made to try one final unorthodox treatment: Factor VII, a powerful clotting agent only given to hemophiliacs. Nowhere in the United States is there any literature or reference to it being administered to trauma patients.
Less than one hour after infusion of Factor VII, Jenny's bleeding stops. But she is not out of danger and still requires one-on-one nursing care. The family is finally permitted to see Jenny and are encouraged to speak to her, touch her and comfort her.
Jenny is a fighter and after two weeks and several more operations, she is moved to the intermediate care unit. Just 23 days after arriving at the Shock Trauma Center in a near-death state, Jenny is discharged for home. There are still more operations ahead, but Jenny and her daughter, Jennifer, have moved to a new house and new life. Jenny is thinking about a career change that will allow her to help other women whose lives have been shattered by domestic violence. In part, she is trying to understand the meaning of her husband's sudden outburst of violence. But most importantly, she is finding new meaning to her own life and a future for her daughter.