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Countless acts of kindness help save a life

  • After a sudden attack of vertigo, Bill Manning knew in an instant that he was dying. He just didn’t know why.

    Unable to breathe, and with incredible pain in his chest, he insisted on being taken to Abbott Northwestern Hospital. Within minutes, he was being evaluated by Nick Johnson, MD, emergency medicine specialist.

    "I kept speaking to Dr. Johnson… and I could tell he was listening deeply to me," recalled Manning.

    Johnson suspected an esophageal tear, a devastating condition that must be treated quickly. It allows stomach contents to spill into the chest cavity, resulting in significant pain and life-threatening infection.

    While nurses and others worked to stabilize his condition, imaging and lab studies were done that confirmed Johnson’s diagnosis. Emergency surgery was required to repair the 1-1/2 inch tear and clear the chest cavity.

    "The many acts of love and kindness that I experienced are far too many to mention," said Manning, who has since chosen to make a legacy gift to the Abbott Northwestern Hospital Foundation as way of honoring the care he received.

    "To be in the hospital and have someone wash your hair and pour warm water over your head when you are so sick is such an incredible act of love," he said. "I was touched by – and I was cared for – over that 10-day period by 80 to 85 people. And that’s the reason I’m sitting here today."

    Bill Manning shares his story.