Monday, September 10, 2007

One year later, beating the odds

Mike Mimloe has had a rough year. A near-fatal heart attack - at age 20 - followed by months of recovery and rehabilitation was not what he expected in his sophomore year of college.

Michael Milmoe with his sister, Meaghan. The heart attack victim, now 21, beat expectations. (MILMOE FAMILY)

A year ago, on a beautiful September day, Michael Milmoe of Dedham was playing flag football with friends on the campus of the University of Vermont. Milmoe had just turned 20 and was happy to be back at UVM for his sophomore year. He'd had a great first year: he was a dean's list student and had pledged a fraternity.

In the football huddle, he suddenly collapsed, staggered to his feet and collapsed again. Friends ran for help. Both on the field and in the hospital emergency room, he was resuscitated a total of 17 times. He'd been oxygen-deprived for so long that he had suffered neurological damage. Tests revealed no reason for the heart attack. The chaplain gave him final sacraments. At Brigham and Women's Hospital, a doctor told Kathy and Jim Milmoe that their son had a 1-in-100 chance of returning to normalcy.

Mike Milmoe might just be that one. After months in the Brigham and then Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, he is now at Crotched Mountain, a rehab center in Greenfield, N.H. Gone is the wheelchair; he is now able to use a walker. Thanks to intensive therapy, his speech is also coming along. He has learned to use eating utensils and a toothbrush. His long-term memory is good; short-term needs work. His vision remains problematic: so far, he can see only vague colors and shapes.
Mike has had some great support for friends, family, and Sig Ep brothers.
The Milmoes have been overwhelmed with the support they've received. The first day they brought Michael to Crotched Mountain, they left briefly to eat at a nearby restaurant. A woman they knew slightly from Dedham happened to be there, and offered to let them stay in her Greenfield cabin anytime they came up. St. Mary's Parish held a prayer service that drew nearly 500. People have cut their grass, brought food, cleaned the refrigerator, done the laundry. Mike's fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon, sold rubber bracelets with "Milmoe" printed on them and raised $8,000.
Here is hoping that Mike continues to make progress and is soon able to tell his chapter "Thanks" in person.

One year later, beating the odds - The Boston Globe