Reunion brings LifeLine patient face-to-face with crew members

They found her in severe respiratory failure and Lydia Hutchison and Jeremy Harris helped stabilize Breigh Maples. Recently, she got to thank them for their service.

By T.J. Banes, IU Health Senior Journalist,

There were tears. There were hugs. There may have been more tears, but Breigh Maples had practiced and anticipated this special moment for days. She was meeting the IU Health LifeLine crew members that helped save her life.

It was Nov. 14, 2018 when Maples’ parents Mike and Andrea Maples thought they were losing their daughter and her then boyfriend Matt Chaney thought he was losing the love of his life. Just two days earlier she was admitted to a hospital near her Liberty, Ind. home. She was weak, tired, short of breath, and coughing up blood.

“They were at a loss and not sure what to do so they contacted LifeLine,” said Andrea Maples. When LifeLine medic Jeremy Harris and nurse Lydia Hutchison arrived at the hospital Maples was in severe respiratory failure.

“Lydia was the real hero,” said Harris. The former ICU nurse walked in and took over. Hutchison said she did what she is trained to do. “I try to make sure I meet the patient’s needs by acting quickly and bringing comfort to a family on what might be their worst day.”

Hutchison has been with LifeLine for six years; Harris has been with LifeLine for nearly five years.

Maples, a 2011 graduate of Lincoln High School in Cambridge City, Ind. was intubated and transported to IU Health Methodist Hospital. She spent eight days on life support and in a medically induced coma.

“I got down on my knees and prayed next to Breigh every night and kept telling her not to give up, keep fighting and that I will not leave her side. I reminded her every day how strong, beautiful and brave she was and how much I loved her,” said Chaney. He and Maples met seven years ago playing on the same co-ed softball team. They became best friends and started dating a year later.

Andrea Maples told her daughter that Chaney cried every day when she was in the hospital and was worried sick about her. He operated on little to eat and limited sleep. “He wanted to sit with me the entire time and keep eyes on me and warned anyone that wanted to go in the room to wash their hands and put a mask on,” said Maples. Chaney knew then that he wanted Breigh to become his wife. But he waited patiently for her body to heal.

Two days after being admitted to Methodist Hospital, at the age of 25, Maples was diagnosed with Goodpasture syndrome. The pulmonary-renal syndrome is a group of acute illnesses involving the kidneys and lungs. It causes inflammation of the blood vessels in the kidneys that help filter extra water and blood. It can also cause bleeding in the lungs.

The day of her diagnosis Maples began chemotherapy. “LifeLine crew members saved me during my transfer to Methodist Hospital, but Matt’s been my first responder for many years. He took me to my chemo treatments, waited on me hand and foot, got me my meds, picked me up out of bed and carried me to ER. I don’t know what I would do without him,” said Maples.

She continues with monthly chemotherapy and has been on steroids for eight months. She in the care of a team of doctors at IU Health including Dr. Sarah Perryman, a rheumatologist, Dr. Rajat Kapoor, a pulmonologist, Dr. Michael Burk, who specializes in internal medicine and pulmonary disease, and Dr. Damien Patel who specializes in pulmonary and critical care medicine.

The autoimmune disease caused hemorrhaging in her lungs and she spent 18 days in ICU before she could build up enough strength to begin physical and occupational therapy. She has relapsed four times since her initial diagnosis and has been hospitalized at IU Health each time.

But she is alive.

“I have about two good days a week,” said Maples. It was on one of her best days when she recently met Hutchison and Harris at the LifeLine base in New Castle. The meeting was the culmination of a yearlong journey to diagnosis and recovery.

Andrea Maples only knew the first name of the nurse who flew to her daughter’s aid. Mike Maples works just up the road from the LifeLine base so Maples stopped in one day and asked if there was a nurse named “Lydia” on the crew.

“She and Jeremy were both here and I told them that Breigh wanted to meet them and thank them,” said Maples. The LifeLine crew members only had Breigh in their care for 30 minutes. They were happy to learn she was doing well.

“I have to tell you how thankful I am,” said Maples. “A lot of people in your profession don’t get the pat on the back they deserve.”

As they exchanged hugs and presented Maples with gifts of flowers and a LifeLine patch, t-shirt, and coffee mug, Hutchison and Harris heard updates of Maples’ life. Chaney, the man who has stood by her side throughout her healing, proposed to her on December 23. Maples joked about inviting Hutchinson and Harris to the wedding.

As the sun went down over the rural landing field, the LifeLine helicopter served as a backdrop for photos of Chaney, Maples, her sister Bayleigh, and her parents. This time there was laughter rather than tears.

“I felt like their wings were wings of an angel and they swooped in when she needed them most,” said Andrea Maples. “Now Breigh’s living the life where she doesn’t have to take a vacation from because every day is a vacation.”