Against the Odds: A Mother's Heart Prevails

Born into resilience.

One day after Brittnee gave birth to her third child, Brayden, she learned that the flu she’d been fighting for weeks had developed into pneumonia. Her lungs collapsed and she became septic (a life-threatening emergency triggered by the body's extreme response to an infection). 

Brittnee was emergency airlifted to UT Medical Center where she was immediately treated with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a lifesaving treatment for seriously ill patients with lung and heart conditions. This technology had first come to UT Medical Center’s Heart Lung Vascular Institute in late 2020 with the help of a generous donor, Mrs. Avis Phillips in honor of her late husband Ted. The ECMO machine essentially does the work for the patient’s lungs and heart, giving time to heal.

Navigating the unforeseen

Patients can expect to be on the machine for weeks or months at a time. Ultimately, Brittnee was on ECMO for 70 days. “I really don’t remember anything from after I gave birth to waking up two months later,” she said. Born and raised in Knoxville, Brittnee and her husband, Jeremy, were married in 2020 and have seven children in their large, blended family. People from their church stepped in and helped Jeremy take care of the kids, especially newborn Brayden, while Brittnee fought for her life in the intensive care unit at UT Medical Center. “I learned that I’m a pretty strong person, stronger than I thought I was,” she said. “My faith definitely guided me through my healing process. I wouldn't have been able to do any of this without Jeremy’s support. And if it wasn’t for the staff, nurses and doctors at UT Medical Center, I wouldn’t be here today.”

Brayden celebrated his first birthday in December and what a gift it is to have his mother healthy and able to celebrate with him for many birthdays to come. Without ECMO lifesaving therapy, Brayden would have never known his mother. “I have a family at UT Medical Center,” she said. “They cared for me and loved me, and I love them back.” UTMC is proud to be part of Britnee's extended family and cheer her on in her healing process.

We invite you to honor Britnee with a $70 gift for her 70 days spent on ECMO. Your support will make a difference this heart month.

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