Michael Theall, an associate professor of education at Youngstown State University, was attending a conference in San Diego, when he had his second heart attack.
Once at the hospital, doctors discovered that his aorta was splitting and that he needed emergency surgery. The surgery lasted for 13 hours — two of which were devoted to stopping the bleeding.
Michael Theall’s wife, Louise Theall, described the fear she felt when she received the phone call about her husband’s heart episode.
“He had his incident on that Monday, and I was here in California by Wednesday,” Louise Theall said. “He was really sick, but him getting better every day is like a miracle to us.”
After surgery, Michael Theall received an anti-coagulant drug to stop the bleeding, which ended with him developing a blood clot and having a stroke, leaving some of the left side of his body paralyzed and causing four of five fingertips on his right hand to die.
Karen Becker, coordinator of the Reading and Study Skills Center, said Michael Theall was also a talented musician.
“He plays guitar and piano, too,” Becker said. “It’s really sad for him to lose his fingers.” Becker added that the Thealls showcased their vocal talents and sang at her wedding.
Over the past two and a half months, Michael Theall’s condition has been improving. He has been taken off all of his breathing machines, has taken a few steps and hopes that with the help of physical therapy, he will be back in Youngstown within the next month and be able to walk and climb stairs eventually.
Michael Theall said he’s feeling a lot better.
“Although things have gotten dicey, I have progressed and feeling great,” he said.
Louise Theall also said her husband is recovering more quickly than their family anticipated.
“We are really grateful for all of the prayers that have come our way,” she said. “This is like a miracle to us. We really thank God for the miracle that we have received.”
Besides family support, Michael Theall’s story has grabbed the attention of the whole Beeghly College of Education and also the YSU campus.
Faculty, staff and students of the BCOE will be hosting a Pizza Bash Benefit on Wednesday to help defray medical costs for Michael Theall and his family in the McKay Auditorium from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Becker said she thinks the Pizza Bash Benefit will be a success.
“We are expecting 100 to 200 people, maybe even more,” Becker said. “There will also be a chance auction and a 50/50 raffle.”
Items featured in the chance auction include wine and cheese, Keurig supplies, men’s and women’s Avon baskets, and many other items.
The Thealls said they are so thankful for all of the thoughts and prayers they have received from the campus community.
“So many people have been supportive, and I am overwhelmed by the generosity of my colleagues at YSU,” Michael Theall said. “When you have quality people, you are motivated to do your best. Everyone’s thoughts and concerns are very heartening.”
Louise Theall said the couple hoped to surprise everyone by showing up to the benefit, but it will not be possible.
“We are very humbled by everything,” she said. “It gives us all kind of warm fuzzies and makes me proud that he is so respected and loved by his friends and colleagues.”
Individual donations can be made to the Michael Theall Benefit at the Home Savings and Loan Company or by PayPal at firstname.lastname@example.org.