Aqsa Mirza's Story

pulmonary ventilator - patient success story - Aqsa Mirza

In early May, Aqsa Mirza was at home with her parents when she began having an asthma attack.

Despite several inhaler treatments, she continued to struggle for breath. The 22-year-old’s family dialed 911.

By the time the ambulance arrived at the hospital, Aqsa was unconscious and turning blue.

She was placed on a ventilator and treated for seizures. Deprived of oxygen, she’d also sustained a brain injury.

Further complications, including pneumonia and several infections, set in. Aqsa slipped into a coma and needed a feeding tube and multiple intravenous medications.

After a month in the intensive care unit, she stabilized and was transferred to Select Specialty Hospital – Orlando North.

A physician-led team, including nurses and therapists, created a plan to bring Aqsa back to her loved ones.

The therapy team collaborated on a multi-disciplinary treatment that included five days of physical, occupational and speech therapy.

At first, Aqsa was only able to perform passive range-of-motion exercises, with therapists moving her arms, legs, hands and ankles.

Respiratory therapists began trialing whether her lungs were ready to do more work. Slowly, they reduced the ventilator’s settings. Increased oxygen, along with physical and occupational therapy, resulted in more awareness and cognition for Aqsa.

The first big milestone was getting out of bed and into a wheelchair with help. It was then, she said, that she knew she was getting well.

Aqsa became more active in therapy, and worked on sitting up in bed and at its edge. She breathed through exercises with the respiratory team and was able to liberate from the ventilator and have airway support removed.

Nurses ensured Aqsa was out of bed and in a chair twice a day as part of her mobility program,  while occupational therapists retrained Aqsa to feed herself.

Speech therapists worked with Aqsa on games and puzzles to sharpen her mind, along with mouth, throat and jaw exercises to rebuild her speaking and swallowing abilities.

She shared that the first Popsicle she had after being cleared to safely eat thin liquids was “absolutely delicious.”

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, visitation was restricted but the team facilitated regular video calls for Aqsa to speak with her parents. Friends and family would also come by the hospital to see her through the window of her room.

Aqsa continued her recovery with physical therapy, working hard to be able to stand on her own again.

Having met most of her goals, Aqsa was ready for the next phase of recovery. She departed at the end of June for an inpatient rehabilitation hospital. There, she will continue building strength and stamina.

Aqsa shared that her immediate goal is to walk again and enjoy a Chik-fil-A sandwich. She also hopes to get married someday.

“I’m sad to be leaving because the staff has shown me so much love,” Aqsa said. “I’m going to come back and visit after I discharge from the rehab hospital.”