“Sidne was one of the rarest cases imaginable."
A healthy 34-year-old woman is currently fighting for her life after what seemed like a simple headache landed her in the hospital.
Sidne Hirsch and her partner Michael Wetmore were enjoying an eventful Easter weekend in Chicago when tragedy struck.
“It was one of the first beautiful spring days in Chicago,” Wetmore tells PEOPLE.
The couple had just gone out to brunch with a few friends and were gearing up to head to Hirsch’s parents’ house in Indiana ahead of the family’s annual Easter gathering.
“She wanted to help her mom Diana get ready,” Wetmore says of his girlfriend who is the co-founder of Healing Heels, a company which creates shoes for women going through cancer treatment to feel strong and fabulous in.
The couple then set out, loading their dogs Charlie and Sammy in their car. Suddenly, as they were just “miles away” from the family home, Hirsch began to feel a headache “creep up.”
“We had a chat, she cracked some jokes — she was just being her,” Wetmore says of their car ride. “Twenty minutes later, she was in an ambulance and was unresponsive.”
It was then revealed that “Sidne suffered a massive brain hemorrhage caused by an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) — a congenital tangle of abnormal blood vessels that connects arteries and veins in the brain,” a GoFundMe page set up to help cover Hirsch’s medical expenses explains.
“AVM affects less than 1% of the population. Of that 1%, only 2-4% of people experience a bleed.”
“Sidne was one of the rarest cases imaginable, and she had no idea,” Wetmore tells PEOPLE.
“The CT scan in the emergency room showed bleeding on the right side of her brain, and she was helicoptered to Northwestern Hospital in Chicago. The ER doctors told [her dad] Dennis and me she might not survive the flight.”
Hirsch, however, beat all the odds and had an 11-hour brain surgery on Sunday. She has since been transferred to the intensive care unit at Northwestern Hospital in Chicago.
Wetmore explains Hirsch will remain there until the fluid in her brain drains.
“In just the first few days, she made remarkable improvements. Sidne made it through surgery and was taken off the ventilator. She is talking and recognizing me, Dennis and Diana.”
“Her left side has been most impacted, which is even more difficult since she’s left-handed. The incredible team or nurses call her ‘strong and purposeful’ which is no surprise to us.”
Despite her progress, Hirsch has a long ways to go, Wetmore says.
“[Her] short term memory is suffering, a lot of that has to do with the fluid,” Wetmore explains.
“Up until today it was like 50 First Dates,” Wetmore says of Hirsch, in reference to the movie, which follows a man named Henry (played by Adam Sandler) as he falls for a woman named Lucy (played by Drew Barrymore), who has short-term memory loss.
“Today she was more alert than ever,” Wetmore says proudly. “I can already see it getting better.”
Though Wetmore says he and Hirsch “have an amazing life,” and would usually not ask for help — they’re in great need. The in-patient rehab facility Hirsch is scheduled to move to costs $7,000 a day.
“Her world changed in just 20 minutes. We don’t know what the world will be like for her moving forward, but with your help, we can provide her the support she needs to overcome AVM and start this new chapter strong,” the GoFundMe page reads.
Hirsch explains he’s doing his best to put on a brave face, but says he’s “having a hard time” as he watches the love of his life suffer.
But, he maintains he’s staying strong for her — though he admits Hirsch is strong all on her own.
“It’s easy to do for her,” Wetmore says fighting back tears. “You just do what you do.”
“[I’m] going to any length possible to give her the best care possible, she will recover,” Wetmore says.
“I refuse to give her less than that.”
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