Linda Kenney remembers the day her life changed forever. It was November 18, 1999. At the time, she was a 37-year-old wife and mom of three and she was scheduled for a total ankle replacement. For Linda, operations were a way of life. Born with bilateral club feet, this was to be her twentieth surgery. She said goodbye to her husband and went to the pre-operative area where the block was performed. Moments later, she was near death, in full cardiac arrest. A rare and frightening complication had occurred. Anesthesia had entered Linda's blood stream and stopped her heart. A Code Blue was called, and when her cardiac function could not be restored, she was rushed to a cardiac OR where her chest was opened and her heart was connected to a bypass machine. It saved her life.
When she was discharged, Linda was given instructions on how to manage her physical recovery and obtain help from a visiting nurse. But, she says, no one informed her of the emotional impact an event like this would have on her or her family. Linda then made some difficult decisions: She was not going to sue the doctor or the hospital as many people had assumed she would do, and she wanted to get back on the horse and reschedule her surgery. She also decided to contact Dr. van Pelt and ask him to join her for coffee so she could let him know that she didn't blame him and that she believed this was a truly unanticipated outcome.
In June 2002, Linda founded Medically Induced Trauma Support Services (MITSS). Dr. Van Pelt helped get the organization started and is now chairman of the MITSS Board of Directors. Linda has worked with hundreds of patients and their families, as well as clinicians who have found themselves on the sharp end of an adverse event.