The incredible odyssey of heart patient Jay Mullin

Posted on 1/31/2016

Fifty-seven year old Jay Mullin, a successful businessman from Murrells Inlet, was working alongside his wife at a food industry show in Columbia when the unexpected happened. “I was walking along, feeling great,” he recalled, “when all of a sudden – Bam! – like a codfish, I was dead to the world with cardiac arrest.”

EMS workers rushed Jay to Palmetto Health Baptist where he was evaluated and transferred to Palmetto Health Heart Hospital for emergent cardiac catheterization. A temporary heart pump device, known as a left ventricular assist device (LVAD), was inserted and he was sent to the intensive care unit.

Over the course of the next few days, his condition continued to deteriorate despite support on the temporary LVAD and other therapies. He was quickly developing multisystem organ failure. “It got to be Saturday and they had this doctors’ huddle on me. They didn’t think I was going to make it until Sunday. The doctors said I had a 3 percent chance of making it.”

Jay’s outlook was bleak. It was decided to place him on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) for the next seven days. ECMO provides both cardiac and respiratory support when the heart and lungs are unable to provide an adequate amount of gas exchange to sustain life. ECMO works by removing blood from the person’s body, then artifi cially removing the carbon dioxide and oxygenating red blood cells.

“They put about 81 pints of blood in me – good, wholesome Southern blood,” marveled Jay. “I’m from Boston. I was having the Civil War in my guts. But, hey, the South won the war this time because I’m still around.”

Improvements in Jay’s renal function and blood pressure were noticed immediately. He continued to improve to the point that ECMO was stopped. Subsequently, after a weaning period, the LVAD was removed. Thinking back on his harrowing experience, Jay was most moved by the care and kindness he received.

“My wife came to see me every day in the hospital. She showed up with her hands sweating, her throat dry. We don’t have any family down here, but the way she was treated was better than family. She said the compassion the doctors and nurses had for her was absolutely incredible. And after a while I wasn’t sure if she was coming to see me or if she was coming to see all these people at the hospital who were her new friends.

“Jay now has returned to work and is enjoying life. He expressed gratitude to his surgeon, Jeffery S. Martin, MD.

“Next to God, Dr. Martin is the best,” he said with a twinkle in his eye. “I always wanted to walk in Dr. Martin’s shoes – so when I got out, I went and bought me a pair.”

American Heart Month Events

Atrial fibrillation: what does it mean?
Atrial fibrillation (or AFib) is the most common type of irregular heartbeat and, if left unchecked, it can lead to stroke. Cardiac Electrophysiologist Sultan M. Siddique, MD, will speak about solutions to this abnormal heart disease.

Choose from two different times:

To register, call 803-296-CARE (2273).

Love your heart by attending any of our free heart health seminars during February. For more information and to register, go to


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