Michael Buettner was a financial planner with a satisfying life and a bright future, until he needed emergency heart surgery. Although surgeons successfully replaced his aortic valve, something went terribly wrong, leaving him with a permanent and disabling brain injury.
Oxygen Deprivation Leads to Devastating Brain Injury
A Los Angeles area newspaper, the Daily Breeze, reported on Buettner and his condition, explaining that he suffered hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation because of heart surgery. Although his intellect is intact, he lacks the basic skills needed to live his life. He cannot stand up or walk without help. He has difficulty reading and cannot hold down a job. His speech is heavily slurred and he suffers from mood swings. His frustration is evident to everyone around him.
The bills for Buettner and his fiancée Janet Thomas are astronomical. He receives Social Security disability that barely covers his monthly mortgage. Health insurance costs the couple $800 per month. The pair struggle to make ends meet, but fall short every month.
Thomas is the only person who understands Buettner, so she serves as his voice. “I’m in here,” he said through his fiancée, “It’s tough to express myself to the outside world. Everything from before is in here. I can’t find a way to get back to that person.”
Medical Mistakes Leading to Brain Injury
Buettner’s brain injury was unavoidable, but many others suffer in the same way because of medical mistakes. Heart surgery patients can suffer brain injury from a doctor mishandling the heart or handling it too much. Injury can also result from problems with the cardiopulmonary bypass pump doctors use to keep the heart and lungs going during surgery. If the machine is not clamped properly and an air bubble escapes into the blood stream, it can travel to the brain and cause an embolism. Other causes include severe blood loss or cardiac arrest during surgery.
Patients who suffer from severe brain injuries find the road to recovery long and difficult. Treatment typically begins with therapy to reconstruct and open the neurological pathways. Patients often must relearn simple tasks, using different undamaged pathways in the brain. Treatment can be costly and not all of them are covered by health insurance.
Financial and Emotional Strains for Injured Patients
The community has rallied around Buettner, holding a fundraiser to help him with the medical expenses, but not everyone is as fortunate. Therapy sessions can add up quickly, especially if the patient needs daily assistance or around-the-clock nursing. The financial burden weighs heavily on the patient and family. The mental strain of caring for a loved one who has been injured so suddenly and severely is another burden for the family.
If you or someone you love has suffered from a traumatic brain injury, contact our office. Our caring, experienced attorneys will provide you with a free consultation of your case and work with you to ensure you are properly compensated for your injuries. You may be eligible to receive money for medical bills, treatments, therapy sessions, lost wages, and pain and suffering.