Louie's Story. Thankful ... Every day.
Thankful ... Every day.
by Traci Quinn
Louie Salyards tells his story on Monday afternoon in the Public Relations office at Palmetto Health Tuomey. To listen to Louie's Story, click here. (Youtube video)
For Louie Salyards, “thank you” is a prayer, one he offers up daily.
He thanks God for the miracle that kept him alive on a cold November night two years ago, when he nearly bled to death after an accident. And he thanks the staff of Tuomey’s Emergency Room for giving him another chance at life.
“They may save lives every day, but their work goes way beyond this hospital, and I want them to know how much they have touched my family,” he said. “Because of what they did, I can spend another Thanksgiving with my family; I can spend another Christmas, and birthdays with my daughters and my wife -- and I am just very grateful.”
It was Nov. 16, 2009. Louie was helping a friend butcher hogs. It was a few hours past dark; they had generators running for lights. He was field dressing a hog when he used a newly sharpened knife to cut through the breast bone.
“The hog was hanging up and I was standing on a pallet. Normally you cut the breast bone with a big heavy knife and use a hammer and tap it, but I … had grabbed hold of the boning knife and was pulling down on it and it just gave away. The knife went all the way into my leg and came out the backside. As soon as I pulled the knife out I knew I was in trouble.”
Louie had been in the Marine Corps, and he knew a little about the femoral artery. He had just cut his “clean in half.” The blood had shot three feet straight out. He was aware that he could bleed to death.
Two of the men he was with quickly used a belt as a tourniquet. As they were being driven to the hospital in a truck, Louie said, the men were each holding an end of the belt and pulling in opposite directions to keep the pressure on. They stopped in a parking lot on the way when they saw a policeman, and he called paramedics.
“As soon as they got me to the emergency room, the staff started … fighting for my life. I was conscious most of the time. I wasn’t scared. I knew how serious it was, but I also knew where I was headed if I breathed my last.
“But the Lord wasn’t done with me yet.”
He was in shock and shaking uncontrollably. He was close to death, but his memories are clear.
He had lost so much blood, and there wasn’t enough available in his type in the blood bank that night. He remembers hearing nurses and other staffers offering to give their own blood for him.
One nurse in particular “stayed at my head the entire time and was very compassionate. The staff just … well, they were there for a reason. I told the nurse that if I didn’t make it, you tell my wife and my children that I’ll see them again and that I’m not afraid to die. The staff kept telling me. ‘We don’t want to hear that from you; we’re gonna get you through this!’”
Two of the nurses took turns climbing onto the gurney and holding constant pressure on his leg so he wouldn’t lose anymore blood. “It was November, and I remember the perspiration just coming off their faces; they were sweating so bad. They were so tired -- you could see that they were tired, but they didn’t stop doing what they were doing. The entire staff just did what they were trained to do. Of course, they had never met me … and none of them knew who I was, but they just knew that they were there to save my life.”
He’s thankful for Dr. Pelham, an anesthesiologist who asked him if she could pray for him. He’s incredibly grateful for Dr. Hans Brings, who performed the surgery to repair the “completely severed” artery.
“I want the folks at Tuomey to understand how very thankful I am that they gave me a second chance at life. I don’t take that lightly. They get taken for granted, but they need to be thanked. I pray for them and thank God for what they did for me.”
Louie calls the hospital each November to thank the people in the Emergency Department for what they do each day and for what they did on that day.
“It’s a miracle,” he says. “God used you folks to save my life. I can’t say enough words … I’m overwhelmed and so grateful.”