Gordon, 61, suffered his cardiac arrest at work last June and was rushed unconscious to Unity. Doctors restarted his heart, but he remained unresponsive. Physicians could not operate until his heart’s rhythm was stabilized. In order to limit damage to his brain, Cameron Hall, MD, made the decision to deliberately reduce Gordon’s core body temperature to around 90 degrees through therapeutic hypothermia.
Following nearly 20 hours in therapeutic hypothermia, a process which essentially froze Gordon’s body, they began warming him up, slowly bringing him out of a coma.
When Gordon Toleman regained consciousness following a cardiac arrest, he scanned the hospital room at Unity Hospital and recognized his wife, Cindy. When his daughter, Rachel, called his name, he quickly turned and looked in her direction.
Gordon’s reaction and recognition of Rachel’s voice was comforting to Cindy.
“I looked at my daughter, she looked at me, and we both said, ‘Yup, he’s in there,’” Cindy says.
“The doctors did a phenomenal job explaining what they were going to do, what it was going to look like, why they were going to do it and what the outcome would be,” Cindy says. “I never felt out of the loop. I felt like I knew what was going on the entire time.”
The Tolemans were amazed that the doctors at Unity had performed hypothermia treatment protocol to preserve Gordon’s brain function before performing heart surgery.
Nine days after being frozen, Gordon underwent a quintuple bypass at Rochester General Hospital performed by Ronald Kirshner, MD. Two months later, he returned to work.
And today, less than four months after surgery, Gordon says he is “95 percent back to where I was before the heart attack. I’m walking, I’m dancing with Cindy again and I’m gardening.”
Gordon has no memory of the therapeutic hypothermia treatment and says he was “amazed when I was told about it.” He also says he is “equally amazed at how the caregivers have followed through with me and how the whole system was integrated and seamless.”