Fate brought them together
Ten years after surviving a burst brain aneurysm that almost claimed her life, Lauren Melnick-Lamb, a surgical technologist at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Illinois, approached a coworker for his medical opinion on where to go for a follow-up appointment.
She had no idea that the coworker she approached, someone she has passed countless times in the hallways, was the neurosurgeon who saved her life so many years ago.
“Fate brought us together,” Lauren said. “One of my heroes and lifesavers has been right here, working with me in the same hospital all along.”
Ten years ago, Lauren suffered a life-threatening brain aneurysm. The symptoms, while severe, were easy to overlook. She experienced the worst headache of her life, and her vision was blurred. Then finally, she lost all feeling on the left side of her body and lost consciousness, landing her in the emergency department at a local Chicago hospital.
Imaging showed that a blood vessel in Lauren’s brain bulged, forming a brain aneurysm, and burst. Doctors performed surgery to control the brain bleed, and Lauren spent two weeks recovering at the hospital before being discharged home.
Fast forward 10 years, Lauren is now due for a 10-year follow-up appointment to check on the aneurysm. She approached Dr. Raed Abusuwwa, a well-known neurosurgeon at the hospital where she worked, for his opinion on where to go for the appointment. Eager to help, he asked a series of questions, each one more probing than the next.
“He asked me very specific questions, like if my husband brought me to the hospital and what I was doing when my aneurysm ruptured. I answered his questions and told him my aneurysm was clipped,” Lauren recalls.
“I know, I was there,” Dr. Abusuwwa responded to her. “I remember all my patients.”
Dr. Abusuwwa remembered the day he clipped her aneurysm. He remembered her follow-up appointments, when she asked how soon she’d be able to dye her hair again or go on a rollercoaster. As he recalled these detailed moments, Lauren realized the person who saved her life was standing right before her. They took a selfie to commemorate their reunion.
Lauren, who still loves to have her hair done and visit amusement parks with her friends to this day, believes their reunion was fated.
“I cried as we hugged, and I thanked him for saving my life all those years ago and that I have been trying to pay it forward ever since,” Lauren says. “This has been one of the most special moments of my life.”
“I was really very humbled to see Lauren thriving and giving back to her community so many years after her brain injury. To be part of her story has been the greatest gift, and the reunion gave me a boost of hope that will keep me going for many years to come,” says Dr. Abusuwwa. “Her survivorship story will not only inspire others but also raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of brain aneurysms.”
About the Author
Jaimie Oh, health enews contributor, is regional manager of public affairs and marketing at Advocate Health Care. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia and has nearly a decade of experience working in publishing, strategic communications and marketing. Outside of work, Jaimie trains for marathons with the goal of running 50 races before she turns 50 years old.