It’s a miracle I am alive to write this letter.

I am a mom of two young daughters. I am also a teacher and an avid runner.

So when I came down with what I thought was the flu, I figured I’d just tough it out. I was healthy. In fact, I had finished a half marathon at Disney World a few months earlier. I had my family to take care of. My students needed me.

But after a few days, I wasn’t getting better. Then I passed out in my classroom.

That evening, my mom accompanied me to the Mercy Ambulatory Care Center, an emergency care facility operated by Mercy Hospital in Orchard Park. Thankfully, they did a quick blood test that showed my heart was failing.

I was rushed to Mercy Hospital, where my mom is an RN. The medical team at Mercy – including Dr. Henry Meltser, an interventional cardiologist, and Dr. Aravind Herle, the hospital’s chief of cardiology, determined my “flu” was in fact myocarditis. A viral infection had made its way into my heart and was causing organ failure.

The team at Mercy implanted an impella pump to stabilize my heart function. As they worked, Dr. Herle consulted with University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) and requested assistance. Mercy and URMC – which specializes in supporting critical heart patients – have a long working relationship. So when Dr. Herle called, they moved quickly. I was helicoptered to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester that night for further treatment.

The rest is a blur to me.


I spent 10 days in ICU on a system called ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) that did the work of my heart so it could heal. Then I was on a ventilator for another two weeks. My mom and family were by my side the whole time. My mom said the doctors in Rochester told her I would not have made it were it not for the fast work of the team at Mercy Hospital.

I still had a lot of recovery time when I got back to my home. But five months later, I got back to running – a 5K race in Ellicottville. Later, I ran a half-marathon. My goal, with doctor permission, of course, is to run a full marathon in Buffalo.

Honoring Dr. Meltser & Dr. Herle on Doctors’ Day

As you can imagine, a lot of prayers were said by my family throughout my ordeal. My dad will tell you Father Baker had a hand in this miracle. I don’t doubt that. But still, I want to give major credit to Dr. Meltser and Dr. Herle. That is why I am recognizing them on National Doctors’ Day. It’s a day of celebration to recognize special caregivers like those at Mercy Hospital.

I am writing to ask you to help me celebrate. Please consider supporting the Mercy Hospital Foundation with a donation. If you have had your own great experience with a doctor or caregiver at Mercy Hospital, this is your chance to honor the great work that they do.

I’m a believer in miracles. And I am a believer in the incredible care of Mercy Hospital. There are not enough words to express my gratitude.

While you’re thinking about my story, please consider making a donation today. Any and every contribution is appreciated.

– Jennifer Bardrof

Donate to the Mercy Hospital Foundation

A Letter from Dr. Aravind Herle & Dr. Henry Meltser

It is hard to describe our appreciation for the kind words of Jennifer Bardrof regarding the care she received at Mercy Hospital. As part of the medical team that helped her through her challenging ordeal, it is wonderful to see how incredibly well she is doing today.

We are proud to have played a role in the collaborative effort that saved Jennifer’s life. Such success stories would not be possible without the support of Mercy Hospital Foundation and they deserve recognition as well. The Foundation ensures that we – with our colleagues and fellow caregivers – have the resources and tools necessary to deliver the very best in care to patients, like Jennifer.

We hope Jennifer’s story might inspire you to recognize a physician or caregiver at Mercy Hospital. We certainly are humbled to be recognized by her this Doctor’s Day. Tell us your story. Such recognition is a gift in itself..

– Dr. Aravind Herle & Dr. Henry Meltser