When his wife was airlifted from West Chester Hospital to UC Medical Center earlier this year, Tom Silcott’s mind flashed back two months.
His daughter, Christy Silcott, 57, took the same medical journey on Dec. 26, 2015, but died at the hospital from liver disease complications.
“I thought, ‘This is going to end the same way,’” said Tom Silcott, 81. “But this time it will be my wife.”
Instead of planning a funeral, Tom and Patricia Silcott, of West Chester, are celebrating her life.
On Tuesday morning, they were reunited with the medical and helicopter staff at UC Medical Center. They wanted to see the life-saving strangers.
“I have never loved people like I love you,” Patricia Silcott told eight medical members who stood before her. “I’ve never experienced that type of love before. I thank you from the bottom of my heart … and my lungs. I’m not a perfect person and that’s not the reason God wants me back here. I think He has something for me to do.”
Patricia Silcott told the medical staff on the hospital’s Helipad: “God gave me the best team. Prayer heals. Prayer gathers the right people together to heal.”
She hugged each of them while sitting in her wheelchair, patted their hands and later sat in the hospital’s helicopter.
On Feb. 16, the Silcotts went to West Chester Hospital because Patricia, 79, felt ill. She had suffered a massive pulmonary embolism and had blood clots in her lungs. She was transported to UC Medical Center, about an eight-minute flight.
By that time, Dr. Timothy Smith, an interventional cardiologist at UC Medical Center, had gathered his medical team. She lost consciousness and stopped breathing for eight minutes as a team worked on her in the catheter lab, he said. She needed CPR and advanced cardiovascular life support.
Anesthesiologist Dr. Erin Grawe said when Silcott arrived, she was 30 minutes from death.
“She came in at the exact right time.” Grawe said. “She was extremely sick.”
When Dr. Smith first saw Silcott, he never figured she’d survive the procedure. Her oxygen level was 74 percent, what he called “not compatible to life.”
Then he looked at her smile, and saw the twinkle in her eyes, he said.
“Let’s give this a try,” he told his team. “She has a lot of life to give.”
Despite the long odds — 10 percent survive the surgery — Dr. Smith said she can have a normal, healthy life.
“That’s the art of medicine, not the science,” he said.
A few hours after his wife’s surgery, Tom Silcott drove home, cleaned up, then returned to the hospital. As he walked toward his wife’s hospital room, he saw medical staff standing near her door. He was prepared for the worst.
But Dr. Smith started smiling and shook his hand.
“It’s a miracle,” Dr. Smith told him. “She’s coming back.”
She returned a new woman with a new name. She said her mother named her Patricia, a name shortened over the years to Pat. Now she’s Patricia. Again.
“It just didn’t seem right,” she said of being called Pat. “Pat didn’t fit me anymore. I love the name. It sounds so good to me.”
Then she added: “God gave me a second chance. I’m going to be Patricia.”
Later, Dr. Smith looked over at Patricia Silcott and saw the same smile she flashed four months ago.
“It’s worth every second of it,” he said.