Erin Hanussak, a 33-year-old wife and mother, had been under a lot of stress during the summer of 2016. She and her husband, Peter, were house hunting in Roseburg, Oregon and Erin was adjusting to a new job. After losing their first daughter, Nevaeh (“Heaven” spelling backwards), to a congenital heart condition, Erin and Peter were rebuilding their lives back home closer to family.
Erin typically enjoyed an active lifestyle, often hiking with her husband and chasing around her 2 year-old daughter, Olivia. But in late June, she began experiencing flu-like symptoms, which only added to her stress.
Erin decided to go see a doctor for what she thought was an anxiety attack; he prescribed anti-anxiety pills, but they didn’t help. Even her hairdresser knew that stress was taking a toll on Erin’s body when she discovered Erin’s hair was falling out. She recommended Erin see a doctor if it continued.
On the day that would have been Nevaeh’s fifth birthday, Erin couldn’t bear the abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting anymore, so she asked her dad to drive her to the local urgent care center. When she arrived, she was so weak she could barely stand up.
The urgent care staff discovered that Erin was dehydrated and had very low blood pressure. They sent her to the Emergency Room (ER) at the local hospital for escalated care. Once in the ER, Erin’s symptoms led the ER doctors to determine she needed to have her gall bladder removed. She went into surgery that afternoon.
However, the gall bladder surgery did not improve her condition. The problem was not in her gall bladder, but her heart. She was rushed by a MedEvac air transport to Providence-St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland, Oregon, 180 miles away.
By the time she arrived at the catheterization lab at Providence-St. Vincent, she was in cardiogenic shock, a life-threatening condition in which the heart is suddenly unable to pump enough blood and oxygen to support the body’s vital organs. Erin’s condition deteriorated and her kidneys and liver began to fail.