Skilled Cardiac Care at Mount Sinai Leads to Quick Recovery From Pulmonary Embolism

Maya Thornton is a walking miracle.

Maya, 42, was at home in her New York City apartment on November 29, 2020, when she started feeling dizzy and fell to the floor. She reached out to a friend, who immediately dialed 911. Paramedics arrived and rushed her to Mount Sinai West. For a moment, her heart stopped.

She had suffered a pulmonary embolism that sent her into cardiac arrest. By the time Maya reached Mount Sinai West, her liver and kidneys were failing, and she was only able to breathe with a ventilator and heart-stimulating medication. She was transferred to Mount Sinai Morningside, where she received seven units of blood in 24 hours to keep her alive (the average adult’s body holds at least eight units of blood). Maya’s condition was so dire that heart surgeons didn’t believe she would survive the surgery to remove clots from her arteries. As an alternative, the team utilized extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a therapy that adds oxygen to the blood and pumps it through their body like the heart.

A week later, Maya Thornton walked out of Mount Sinai Morningside. “She made a 180-degree turn around and full recovery. In seven days, she went from near death to the picture of health,” says cardiovascular surgeon who monitored her care, Omar Lattouf, MD, senior faculty, Cardiovascular Surgery, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Maya’s mother flew in from California to help with her recovery over the holidays. The pandemic had kept them apart for most of the year, but this event brought them together. 

This health scare helped Maya gain even more respect for front-line workers.  “I always had a respect for them,” she says. “But this just took it to another level. Thanks to the amazing work of the medical staff at both West and Morningside I’m here today.  I’m grateful that there were hospital beds, that there was space for me. There were nurses and doctors available. They were just kind, caring, patient people, every single one of them. In addition to the medical expertise, the kindness, compassion and patience everyone showed me was unparalleled. I am so grateful for all of their hard work and for never giving up on me.”