Anthony Vallejo’s relatives contend that the 30-year-old’s heart is still beating, giving them hope for a chance at recovery, KTVU reported. The family said on Facebook that their heartbreak began on July 8, when the father of two young boys was having an asthma attack and instructed his wife to call 911.
“Within five minutes his lungs had totally collapsed as I watched him helpless gasping for air that wouldn’t fill his lungs,” Talia Vallejo posted in the Facebook fundraiser. “The paramedics got there as he went from the ultimate struggle to collapsing to the ground & turning blue. It happened so much quicker than I’ve ever seen or expected. They had to start CPR on him as he was not breathing and continued for about fifteen minutes in my [driveway] before taking him to Sutter Delta ER.”
Talia Vallejo said her husband was intubated and she was allegedly told his heart stopped for 10 minutes.
“That 10 minutes will be the most important of his life at this point,” she wrote. “Because the lack of oxygen his brain got while they were trying to resuscitate him is what will possibly be the thing that could leave my baby brain damaged. I can’t even believe I’m writing these words about my 30-year-old husband.”
Talia Vallejo said in a follow-up post that they support her husband’s decision to be an organ donor, but that with his heart still beating and his temperature regulated they want more time for his brain to possibly heal. However, according to the National Kidney Foundation, as long as the heart is receiving oxygen, such as from a ventilator, it will continue to beat. It may even continue to beat for several hours once a patient is removed for a ventilator as long as there is still oxygen in the body.
An employee of Donor Network West, who did not comment specifically on Vallejo’s case, told KTVU that regardless of heartbeat, once a registered organ donor is declared brain dead by two doctors there is a vital window in which to remove organs.
“The body temperature goes everywhere, blood sugars go up and down,” Cathy Koubek told KTVU.
A follow-up post from Talia Vallejo in the fundraiser said that the family was given a Wednesday 7 p.m. deadline for her husband before he is prepped for donation. KTVU reported that the family is set to meet with doctors again on Tuesday to discuss his status.