Lundquist Lurie Cardiovascular Institute Team Saves a Life | Torrance Memorial

Published on August 19, 2021

Torrance Memorial's Lundquist Lurie Cardiovascular Institute Team Saves a Life

After spending more than 50 days in a coma following a heart attack, Mark Crenshaw credits his recovery to his team's confidence, use of the latest technology and expert care.

grateful patient with dr ghaly

Written by Lisa Buffington | Photographed by Vincent Rios

Mark Crenshaw, 44, of Torrance doesn’t remember much about the heart attack that landed him at Torrance Memorial Medical Center in November 2020 and caused him to spend six weeks in a coma. However, after receiving both immediate and ongoing care at Torrance Memorial, Mark is grateful he had access to a team of expert physicians in his community who could offer the full range of treatments he needed to recover.

Immediate and Ongoing Cardiac Care Expertise

“I was walking/running, which I did often, and all I remember is feeling strange,” says Mark. “A friend took me to the hospital, and I don’t remember much after that.”

After receiving immediate, lifesaving care for cardiac arrest from interventional cardiologist Ray M. Wyman, MD, Mark was admitted to Torrance Memorial’s intensive care unit (ICU). Aziz Ghaly, MD, a Cedars-Sinai cardiac surgeon and director of cardiac surgery at Torrance Memorial then performed a procedure Mark credits with keeping him alive.

“I put in a device called the Impella 5.0 to support Mark’s heart, which was weak due to the cardiac arrest,” says Dr. Ghaly, who treats patients at Torrance Memorial through an affiliation between Cedars-Sinai and Torrance Memorial’s Lundquist Lurie Cardiovascular Institute. “We needed to support Mark’s body until his cardiac function returned.”

Complete Care Close to Home

With its state-of-the-art facilities, access to the latest technology and cardiac surgery expertise, Torrance Memorial is the only hospital in the South Bay that offers the Impella 5.0 heart pump as a treatment option. The Impella 5.0 received premarket approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat cardiogenic shock, a condition that can occur after a heart attack. Cardiogenic shock weakens the heart, preventing it from effectively pumping enough blood to supply the rest of the body. The Impella 5.0 is designed to temporarily assist the heart with its pumping functions, which reduces strain on the heart as it recovers.

While Mark was in the hospital, he experienced a cascade of symptoms, including kidney failure, liver deterioration and respiratory failure. But after more than 50 days of supportive care, he woke up from his coma.

“Mark’s kidney function returned to normal, and his ejection fraction [a measurement of how much blood the heart pumps out with each contraction] was up to 45%, which is pretty good considering that a normal measurement is 50%,” says Dr. Ghaly, who removed the Impella 5.0 after Mark’s condition began to improve.

“When I woke up in the ICU, I had no idea where I was, what I was doing there or what had happened,” says Mark.

Fortunately, there was never a need to transfer Mark elsewhere for treatment. Through Torrance Memorial’s Lundquist Lurie Cardiovascular Institute and its unique partnership with Cedars-Sinai, Mark had access to the care he needed—including cardiac emergency care, next-level cardiac

intensive and inpatient care and advanced cardiac surgery—all close to home in the South Bay.

Transition to Inpatient Cardiac Rehabilitation

Although Mark’s heart and organs were on the mend, his heart attack deprived his brain of oxygen. As a result, Mark needed intensive physical rehabilitation to assist with memory, walking, speech and dexterity. He was discharged from the program on May 7, 2021, but he will continue to have follow-up appointments to assess his progress.

“They had to teach me how to walk again, and I still have trouble with remembering passwords,” says Mark. “My worst issue is slurring speech, which still hasn’t completely resolved.”

He says he isn’t quite 100%, but he feels “about 85% to 90%.” In addition to difficulties with memory and speech, Mark, a guitarist who formerly played professionally, says his issues with finger dexterity are still affecting his ability to play.

Confidence in Recovery

Mark is now easing back into his job as a senior vice president in charge of artificial intelligence solutions at a bank—and he credits Dr. Ghaly for believing in his recovery, even when his condition didn’t look good. “Dr. Ghaly was the man of confidence, and he believed I was going to make it. He’s exceptionally smart, has a great sense of humor, and we are very much alike—he’s a kindred spirit.”

“I coordinated Mark’s care the entire time he was in the hospital, and I always had faith in him,” says Dr. Ghaly. 

Dr. Aziz Ghaly, practices at 2841 Lomita Blvd, Ste 310 in Torrance. He can be reached at 310-784-6946.