Carmen Laurenza, at the age of 65, was enjoying his retirement, working part time as a van driver and avidly bowling and golfing. He and his wife Terry were looking forward to the holiday season when Carmen was diagnosed with bronchitis. Within a week his condition worsened, sending Carmen to an emergency room. While at the hospital it was discovered that Carmen had suffered a massive heart attack. His liver and kidneys had shut down and there was bleeding internally. Following emergency open heart and bypass surgery, Carmen wasn’t expected to live.
“He crashed several times,” said his wife Terry Laurenza.
As a last resort, Carmen was placed on an oxygenation machine to pump his blood to his heart (ECMO), subsequently causing the tissues in his feet to turn black within four days. This was the beginning of several hospital moves and setbacks for Carmen spanning five traumatic months. In March 2015, Carmen decided to have a bilateral below-the-knee amputation. He was released from the acute care hospital on March 17 and by request transferred to HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Sewickley to regain his strength so he might be eligible for a prosthetic.
Carmen was in physical rehabilitation for two weeks and then received therapy through HealthSouth Sewickley’s Home Health Care for 30 days. Once he gained enough strength, Carmen was fit for his prosthetics and returned to HealthSouth Sewickley in April 2015 to learn to use his new limbs.
“He was a trooper and a fighter,” said Terry. “Carmen went from a wheelchair to using a walker to arm crutches. He’s looking to get rid of arm crutches and hopes to get ankles and feet for his prosthetics soon.”
Carmen is looking forward to living in sunny Florida during the winter and driving the golf cart around his neighborhood, cutting grass and working on his golf game. He’s able to chip and putt and is working on his balance for his golf swing, a goal that has him looking forward to therapy for his prosthetic ankles and feet.
“He went through so many challenges for five months prior to going to HealthSouth Sewickley,” said Terry. “To come out surviving like he did is amazing and doctors say it’s a miracle-- that he shouldn’t be here, but he is.”