I have learned that “superheroes” are real and some live right here in Western New York. One of my “superheroes” is a medical device – the Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO). This past April it saved my long-time partner Craig Shaffer’s life.

After contracting COVID-19, Craig spent five days on a ventilator at Sisters Hospital, St. Joseph Campus, New York State’s first dedicated COVID-19 hospital. He was taken to Mercy Hospital where Dr. Harsh Jain, a cardiac surgeon and the director of the ECMO program, calmly explained that we had one more chance. While on the ECMO for 23 days, Craig’s heart and lungs were given an opportunity to rest. It allowed him to fight the virus as the ECMO took over for his cardiac and respiratory support.

From there, the human “superheroes” took over. Because of the contagious nature of COVID-19, I was unable to be by Craig’s side. However, I knew that the team in the Cardiovascular ICU (CVICU) at Mercy Hospital were there surrounding him with their hearts, while his rested.

They cared for me too. The staff arranged for daily virtual visits on iPads, which allowed Craig to hear my voice. At night a CVICU nurse named Michelle would call to reassure me. Dr. Brian Davis, a physician in that unit, remained positive while providing heartfelt support following the one visit I had with Craig. I felt the compassion they had for both of us and knew, without a doubt, that Craig wasn’t alone. Superheroes were there for both of us.

By July he came home having defeated COVID-19!

We met so many special people at Mercy Hospital. That is why I am sharing our story with you, and am asking you to please support the Mercy Hospital Foundation with a donation today. In this season of giving, your donation of any amount will help us to invest in the latest medical technologies and offer the best training for our heroes at Mercy.

When the wonders of medicine meet the compassion and faith of the human heart, anything is possible.

With much gratitude,
Cindy Cieslinski


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