Brittnee Johnson, who has been at the University of Tennessee Medical Center and on machines keeping her alive for three months, is finally showing signs of improvement and recovery.
Her husband Jeremy Johnson says, “She had the flu while being pregnant. We went to the hospital Dec. 2. That’s when we found out that she had bacterial pneumonia.”
She delivered little Brayden two days later. However, Brittnee’s health turned for the worse.
“It went from there. She got viral pneumonia then went septic… We came up here, got hooked up on ECMO,” Jeremy says.
UT ECMO Manager and Nurse Annie Criswell say ECMO treatment is complicated and risky, “We are pulling blood from the patient. Oxygenating it ventilating it. And giving it back to the patient.”
Criswell adds if patients are on an ECMO machine, they are facing a life-or-death situation and Brittnee was no exception.
“We try to reserve it for those who are very sick. You’re also on a ventilator. You’re also on a lot of medications to help your blood pressure, to help you stay calm, to give you antibiotics. You have two nurses when you are on these machines,” she says. “ECMO is a roller coaster. You have high moments, and you have lows. And all of our patients see that, and the most recent one definitely did. She had very high moments where she was doing well and low moments where were talking to family saying this might be it.”
At one point in the care, Jeremy says his wife’s chance of surviving appeared to be fading.
“When they told me if they couldn’t get the bleeding to stop, we were going to lose her. I fell to my knees. At that time my church was with me, my pastor and his wife was here. We prayed. We started praying. I asked God to take His hands off me and put them around her,” he said.
Jeremy says after that night and after so many prayers things began to change.
“We came in the next day and there had been a significant change in the way she was bleeding. God’s miracle had started working,” he says.
Jeremy says God’s angels in this miracle were the UT Medical Center nurses like Criswell.
“They never left her side. They never gave up on her. Even when they thought, we thought we were going to lose her, they stood by her the whole time,” he adds. “We have no bleeding at this time. We’ve lost ECMO, and she’s still on the ventilator, but she is improving every day. So, a lot of my fear is gone. Now let’s get to work and get her better and get her home.”
Criswell says they give all their patients the best care possible, but this case was special.
“Knowing she had this little baby at home who had not seen his mother, really pushed us to get her to a state where she can see this baby. She and this baby deserve to see each other and need each other… and live their life together,” she says.
Brittnee is still at the UT Medical Center, but after three months, she is doing much better.
The medical bills for the Johnson family are expensive and their church is holding a fundraiser to help the family.
There is currently a BBQ lunch at Refuge Church on 2144 Old Highway 95 in Lenoir City from 12-2 p.m. and accepting donations to help cover medical bills.