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Lifestyle & Human Interest

Miracle When Firefighter Starts Breathing on His Own Again After Freak Illness

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First responders put their lives and well-being on the line every day to help people. They never know quite what situation they’ll be charging into, but they continue to face the odds to save lives.

Most of the time, you’d expect any injuries or emergencies to take place as a result of a tricky rescue operation. But emergencies are no respectors of time or place, and they happen just as often during down time.

Erik Conde is a firefighter with the Hallandale Beach Fire Rescue Department in Florida. Just a few days after Christmas, on Dec. 28, he suddenly collapsed while on the clock. He wasn’t breathing, and his heart had stopped beating.

Fortunately, he couldn’t have experienced an episode like this in a better setting. He was immediately attended to, his heart was started again, and he was taken to the hospital where doctors eventually discovered he had a lung infection.

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“The doctors are unsure as to what caused his cardiac arrest but for now, he is on an ECMO machine,” the GoFundMe page reads. “Being used to bypass his lungs, oxygenate his blood and keep his body and brain alive while his injured lungs heal.”

Throughout the process, Conde remained unconscious. For several days after his collapse, people visited and doctors monitored him, but it wasn’t until Jan. 2 that they realized he was responding.

“Hey guys it’s Rachel!!!” read a GoFundMe update from Jan. 2. “As I came in this morning the doctors were doing a bronchoscopy. They said xrays were better and they also were doing a TEE to check the heart. All test results were good.”

“They decided to do a wake assessment to assess his neural function. It was intense and it was amazing. He obeyed all commands and I was able to stand over him and tell him that he was ok and the family was ok.”

“I told him to squeeze my hand and he did! I told him to stay calm and that he had an infection in his lungs that had to heal. Once they assessed him they put him back under sedation. He is still considered in critical condition. The goal over the next 2 days is to wean him off of ECMO and sedation. I will update you all tomorrow! I am so stoked!!”

Days passed, and Conde grew stronger. By Jan. 6, he was able to breathe on his own again, an incredible milestone in his recovery.

“Erik is off the ventilator and is doing very well breathing on his own!” another update read. “He is on oxygen but again baby steps!!! He is in great spirits and enjoys visitors!”

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“We are looking forward to celebrating his birthday tomorrow! Nurses and doctors say this is truly a miracle!!! What a blessing! Keep up your prayers because they are working!!!”

As of writing time, the GoFundMe page has garnered nearly $50,000. According to the page, these funds will go to help pay for Conde’s medical bills and help the family as they stand by their husband and father.

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking