Young Heart Attack Survivor Thanks Mercy Health for Saving Her Life – A Second Time

Monica LaMadline

Monica LaMadline was just 11 months old when her life was saved at Mercy Health the first time. She was admitted to the Emergency Department with what turned out to be meningitis. “She was crashing and seizing. The care team didn’t think she would make it,” recalled Susan Benton, LaMadline’s mother. Preparing for the worst, she quickly requested to have her daughter baptized by the Mercy Health priest who brought in holy water and prayed over Monica. “When he said ‘Amen,’ she stopped seizing.”

Nearly four decades later, LaMadline, 39, of Whitehall, found herself back at Mercy Health with another life-threatening condition.

“I had been dealing with bronchitis and a terrible cough. After visiting an Urgent Care office, the doctor determined it was a respiratory lung problem, so I went back home to rest and relax. Then, all of a sudden, I was walking downstairs to visit with my family and it felt like something in my chest had slammed shut,” said LaMadline.

With the bronchitis diagnosis, Benton figured her daughter had exerted herself too much that day and was feeling the effects of the respiratory condition. However, she realized things with her daughter’s health were escalating quickly — and in the wrong direction. “One minute she was fine. Next thing I know, she was laying on the floor drenched in sweat. I called 9-1-1, but the call dropped.” Luckily, Benton was able to connect with the 9-1-1 dispatcher, and they sent help immediately.

The paramedics arrived, did an examination and performed an emergency EKG. Immediately they could tell this was not a symptom of a respiratory condition. LaMadline was having a heart attack. The paramedics quickly transported her to Mercy Health Mercy Campus for treatment.

“Once they saw the EKG – that’s when things escalated. The siren went on and we drove really fast. I was in a lot of pain,” said LaMadline. “One of the main things I do remember from the ambulance ride was (that) they were calm when I was anxious. That gave me a calmness as well.”

LaMadline, left, hugs her mom, Susan Benton in appreciation

After arriving at the Emergency Department, Benton met with David Bonnema, MD, interventional cardiologist for Mercy Health Muskegon. “We weren’t in the ER but ten minutes and Dr. Bonnema came up to us to explain that he would be providing Monica’s care. What a jewel he is! We can’t even tell you how much we love him,” she explained. “By the grace of God, he was already working right in the ER at the time they brought Monica in. She would’ve died within minutes had there been a second or two lost somewhere along the way. We were all in the right place at the right time.”

Benton recalls, “After Dr. Bonnema left, we moved down to the waiting room. Part of me was still thinking, ‘This is nothing. She’s going to be fine.’ But the nurse came out and explained that Monica had experienced a massive heart attack. I was in shock…I didn’t want to believe it. I was thinking this can’t be a heart attack – she’s so young!”

LaMadline had significant blockage in the left descending artery. Bonnema explained that her condition – known as the Widow-maker heart attack – is one of the deadliest. ” What happened to her could have had a tragic outcome,” he stated. She was then taken to the Intensive Care Unit to be monitored.

Regarding her daughter’s care at Mercy Health, Benton explained, “She just had the best nursing care. I’m a big critic, as I’ve worked here for a very long time and I’m an LPN. Everyone was extremely professional, but also so compassionate and nice.” LaMadline echoed, “Nurses have the toughest job. They never, ever made me feel like I was an inconvenience or a bother. They were so kind to me – each in different ways – which made it very personal. From the nurses to the environmental services staff, techs and the care assistants – they all treated me with respect and kindness. We always had what we needed.”

LaMadline with Dr. Bonnema

“I’ve seen Dr. Bonnema many times since my ER visit. I’ve also done cardiac rehab at the Heart Center. I love West Shore Cardiology. They are so on top of things. A lot of doctors don’t have that compassion, but when you talk to Dr. Bonnema, you feel like you’re important and that that he truly cares. The first thing he said to me is…’I’m so glad to see you. I’m so glad you’re alive.'”

Bonnema attributes LaMadline’s comeback to the talented care team at Mercy Health. “I am very pleased with the excellent outcome that Monica is able to enjoy. Her results are secondary to a fantastic team effort. I am very proud of the accomplishments of the Mercy team.”

Before she was discharged from the hospital, LaMadline received information about cardiac rehab, diabetic education and was offered opportunities to take various classes and learn how to live a better, healthier life.

“At the Mercy Health Heart Center, you’re provided these classes in order to learn. Before I left the hospital I was completely set up and understood what to do. They made me feel like I was a member of the family, and that they truly care about me – not just while I was in the hospital, but through my entire recovery,” said LaMadline.

Benton shared, “They cared for her like they she was their own. It’s not just one person or one department. It’s everyone coming together to make the patient care experience the best in the world.”

For LaMadeline, Mercy Health is something even more. “I think everybody loves Mercy Health because it’s home. It’s just home.”

For information on Mercy Health’s Comprehensive Heart program, please visit





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