Giving in thanks for extraordinary care from an extraordinary team - Gratitude Story

Giving in Thanks for Extraordinary Care From an Extraordinary Team - Gratitude Story

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Dominic Brunaccioni with his mom, Kim Curtin

Dominic Brunaccioni was just one month away from graduating with a bachelor’s degree in international relations from American University when an MRI revealed that the 21-year-old had a large brain tumor, which was pressing against his brainstem and his C1, the uppermost vertebra of his cervical spine.

“Dom had been experiencing nausea and headaches for a while and had seen numerous providers in recent years to determine the cause,” says Kim Curtin, his mom. “After reading the MRI, the neurologist called to inform me that Dom needed surgery immediately and was being admitted to MedStar Georgetown University Hospital where he would be seen by Dr. Amjad Anaizi, a neurosurgeon. The date was April 12.”

Kim quickly booked a flight from the family home in Connecticut arriving in Washington, D.C., seven hours later. She met with Dr. Anaizi the next morning. “He told me he was shocked that Dom hadn’t yet had any seizures and was fortunate. He stressed that the tumor needed to be removed right away…that there was no time to waste,” she explains. “At this point, he could not determine what type of tumor Dom had or whether or not it was cancerous.”

Dom was scheduled for surgery on April 14 a procedure that would take approximately six to seven hours. Dr. Anaizi arranged to have the OR nursing team contact Kim hourly to provide her with updates on the progress of the surgery and how her son was doing.

“I sat in the waiting area for hours wondering if Dom would make it and, if so, how it would impact my son’s life. My son is so intelligent…speaking Spanish, Arabic, and Turkish…and the future was so bright. I kept thinking my son is only 21…and needs to live the life,” Kim says. “In the meantime, as promised, I received a call every hour regarding the progress of the tumor resection.”

After the procedure, Dr. Anaizi come to the waiting area to let Kim know Dom had been transferred to the Neuro ICU and that she could speak with him as soon when settled into the ICU room. He explained that they would not know the composition of the tumor until the pathology report was completed.

Dom spent the next 15 days in the Neuro ICU, where Kim continued to be amazed by the team caring for Dom and the quality of care that was received. “Everyone was wonderful at a time when the amount of worry, fear, and anxiety we were feeling was intense. After a few days, one of the nurses asked Dom what his immediate goal was and the immediate reply was to walk across the stage for the college graduation on May 14,” Kim notes. “She told the other nurses and soon enough, he was up and circling the nursing station with all his IVs and tubes, even though he was very weak.”

Throughout Dom’s stay at MedStar Georgetown, Kim continued to be impressed by the upbeat and positive attitude of everyone she encountered. “After a few days, most of the folks in the reception area recognized me and they would all ask how Dom was doing,” she says.

She also received positive news in the form of the pathology results. The tumor was not cancer. “I cried upon seeing those results.”

Dom’s road to recovery was a little challenging but he rose to the occasion. After the stay in the Neuro ICU, Dom was discharged to MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital where the stay was for a little over a week. Despite struggling with some temporary speech and vision problems, Dom was still able to achieve his goal of walking on stage for the college graduation on May 14…with the help of two roommates.

Following graduation, Kim brought Dom home for the summer to receive outpatient rehabilitation services at a local hospital. He returned to Washington, D.C., in September where he resumed speech and vision therapy with the providers at MedStar Health’s rehabilitation hospital.

In October, Dom asked Kim to come to D.C. to assist with a visit and thank the ICU nurses at MedStar Georgetown. “Dom insisted we pick up nine pizzas from Pepe’s Pizza, a favorite in Connecticut, which we personally delivered,” Kim says. “Every member of the team was delighted to hear how their former patient was doing and thankful that all was well.”

The entire experience inspired Kim to show her gratitude for the extraordinary care Dom received with a generous donation to the Neurosurgery and Innovation Fund at MedStar Georgetown. “Dom is still here thanks to the collaborative efforts of a team that epitomized what the word teamwork means. We are so thankful.”

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