Emotional return after cardiac arrest

Wednesday, January 18, 2023 intensive care unitrecoveryrehabilitation
Emotional return after cardiac arrest Dale Shanahan surrounded by some of the Bendigo Health staff who cared for him during his seven-week stay at hospital.
Dale Shanahan returned to Bendigo Health in January following an incredible recovering from a cardiac arrest.

When Dale Shanahan walked into Bendigo Health in January, some staff could not believe their eyes.

They had last seen him in a wheelchair, being transferred down to Melbourne for further rehabilitation after suffering an Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) following cardiac arrest in September.

“Staff were gobsmacked,” said Health Service Assistant Greg Spedding.

“We were unsure of the extent of his brain injury and how much he would recover so when he walked in some staff were in tears.

“They were simply amazed by his recovery. 107 days from cardiac arrest to discharge from rehab is unbelievable.”

Dale, 31, spent seven weeks at Bendigo Health after suffering a cardiac arrest at Echuca Regional Hospital. He presented to ERH with kidney stones and later arrested. Dale’s brain was without oxygen for a significant amount of time, resulting in an ABI.

Dale said the cause of the arrest was extra pathways in the heart, which required a five-hour operation to remove them.

At Bendigo health, he was in ICU for 3 weeks, the respiratory ward for two weeks and the rehab ward for two weeks.

Last month he visited all the staff to thank them for their care, despite not remembering much during his time here.

“His gratitude touched staff. That’s exactly why you do the job – that’s payday,” Greg said.

Dale’s partner, Drew, was thankful of the support and attentiveness of staff.

“They were fantastic,” she said.

After learning to walk and tie his shoelaces again, Dale’s recovery continues.

The care he received has encouraged him to consider a career change, moving into healthcare to help people.