|03-30-2002, 01:32 PM||#1|
Join Date: Jul 2001
Being Unintentionally Aware During Surgery Traumatizes Victims
Anesthesia Awareness Affects 200,000 Yearly; Being Unintentionally Aware During Surgery Traumatizes Victims
RESTON, Va.--(BW HealthWire)--March 29, 2002--Anesthesia awareness occurs when an individual is unintentionally aware, or awake, during surgery.
The general anesthesia is somehow incompletely administered to the patient, and the patient's brain is not asleep. Patients who might later articulate the experience are often discouraged from seeking redress. The incidents often are denied, not reported, explained away or otherwise swept under the carpet. Yet an estimated 200,000 to 400,000 incidents of anesthesia awareness occur annually.
According to Carol Weihrer, who underwent the surgical removal of an eye while being unintentionally aware, "Anesthesia awareness is perhaps the most helpless and terrifying feeling in the world." Weihrer's body was paralyzed by anesthesia. She couldn't breathe on her own. There was a tube down her throat. She couldn't speak or move any part of her body to alert the doctors that she was awake. She finally did manage to move her body, causing the anesthesiologist to administer more paralytic drug. Weihrer remained aware through much of her 5 1/2-hour surgery.
With her own funds and those acquired in a settlement with her anesthesiologist, Weihrer founded the Anesthesia Awareness Campaign, a nonprofit organization to educate the general public as well as medical, psychological and legal professionals about anesthesia awareness.
Trained as a classical musician, Weihrer was diagnosed with a debilitating eye condition called recurrent corneal erosions in 1984. Having one diseased eye removed in 1998, she is only 10 percent sighted in her other eye. But with that 10 percent, she passionately pursues her mission: "To prevent, through education and empowerment, anyone else from becoming a victim of anesthesia awareness."
Weihrer's Anesthesia Awareness Campaign publishes educational materials including brochures and a monthly newsletter. Weihrer communicates electronically with awareness victims throughout the world. Her organization's Web site -- www.anesthesiaawareness.com -- averages 10-plus hits a day, serving as a clearinghouse for technical information and a forum for discussion of awareness experiences. The campaign is also helping locate participants for research on the effects of being unintentionally aware during surgery, conducted by Dr. Michael Wang of Hull, England.
Physicians, psychologists, attorneys and others consult with Weihrer on anesthesia awareness and PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, which often afflicts those who experience awareness with flashbacks, depression and other psychological symptoms. Weihrer has also presented at Anesthesia Grand Rounds at St. Vincent's Hospital in New York City.
The Anesthesia Awareness Campaign, Inc., is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization founded by Carol Weihrer, P.O. Box 8592, Reston, VA 20195-2492. Phone 703-437-7327. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Weihrer is available for interviews, consultations and presentations.
Wren & Associates
Patricia Wren, 216/932-7459