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HEART MONTH: Local man walks out of the hospital against all odds

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Jim Erlandson lived a normal life. He was healthy, active and never had any previous issues.

Just last fall he had slight yet constant pain that worried him, so he made a trip to prompt care. When he walked through those doors he was not expecting to stay there for over three months.

“I coded a couple times when I was on the table, I think there was a couple times where the doctors were maybe deciding they shouldn't go on anymore,” says Jim Erlandson.

Jim Erlandson never had any heart problems, no high blood pressure, high cholesterol or anything. So, when he had slight pain, he didn’t think much of it.

“It started on the morning of september fourth. I had pains that morning but I kind of ignored them,” says Jim.

In fact, he ignroed it for hours. That day he was taking care of his wife, Kim, who had a procedure done. It was quite some time before he went to prompt care.

“after being there about five minutes they called an ambulance and said you're going to the hospital because we think you're having a heart attack.”

After ariving at OSF St. Francis Medical Center in the care of Dr. Timothy Swain, he found out he had a 8.4 centimeter aneurysm on his coronary artery.

“Dr. Swain said more than likely that thing would have ruptured and he would've been gone,” says Kim Erlandson, Jim's wife.

“An aneurysm basically is a enlargement of a normal coronary artery or any artery in your body. This was the biggest one I've ever seen. It was leaking which was why he was having chest pain. You know building up blood around the heart,” says Timonthy Swain III, MD of OSF St. Francis Medical Center.

“They kept saying it [aneurysm] was about the size of a baseball,” says, Kim Erlandson.

Jim was in the hospital for 111 days, surviving off an ecmo machine.

“I was on the ecmo machine for 25 days. Not a lot of people survive after being on that long,” says, Jim Erlandson.

“There's different types of ecmo but he was on full support. We were completely supporting his circulation and oxygentation with va ecmo," says Dr. Swain.

“Because of the circulation I lost the tips on 7 out of 10 fingers and so there is some consequences but it kept me alive,” says, Jim.

During this time, the doctors told his wife Kim to keep talking to him throughout the process.

“During that time was our wedding anniversary and he had a surgury scheduled for that day. I just told him that when I took those vows I was very serious to love to honor in sickness and in health till death due us part. I also told him, but it's not happening today big boy," says, Kim Erlandson.

And he did make it, despite all odds. One hundred and eleven days and a rare amount of time on the ecmo machine. Jim was one of the lucky ones and pulled through in just enough time for Christmas.

“Once I got through that and got off that then it was a matter of starting rehab. We kinda set the date around then, first of Decemeber. So I could be home by Christmas; and we made it. Just being out of the hospital I mean, after spending that much time there and being home with the family and the dogs and it was just nice to be home, it really was. If you have any pain or anything don't hesitate and go get it checked out immediately because it at least gives yourself a shot," says, Jim.

Trisha Christakes

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