Survivor Stories

  • Updated:Jun 11,2013
  • Robert - Survivor

    Date Submitted: 16 Mar 2011  | My Dad, while traveling on the beltway near Washington, DC, pulled over to help a stranded motorist that had pulled off the highway. While helping the motorist, he suffered a heart attack. When the ambulance arrived, he had already passed away. I always remembered that incident along with the fact that bystanders on the scene possibly could have saved his life but, did not know how to perform CPR. Years later, I applied for and secured a US Patent that assists people with remembering CPR. The patent involves CPR instructions enclosed in a watch housing. It will have "Hands-Only" CPR as I belief people are less intimidated with using this form of CPR. Currently, I am trying to bring this patent to market as I believe many lives can be saved each year if only people would become acquainted with this basic and easy to administer form of CPR. Here is to life!
  • Jose' Florez - Survivor

    Date Submitted: 26 January 2011  | Trabajo en un hospital de Atencion Prehospitalaria de la Secretaria Distrital de Salud y hago parte del grupo de instructores de la FUCS, me interesa conoce las historias.
  • Glidden - Survivor

    Date Submitted: 12 January 2011  | Soy instructor de ACLS, he enseñado y practicado resucitación por varios años. Cuando mi hija menor tenía 30 días de nacida presentó paro cardíaco y respiratorio hasta llegar al hospital. Su prnóstico era malo. Actualmente tiene 2 años y esto me compromete ha seguir enseñando adhonorem.
  • Holly Faunce RN MSN

    Date Submitted: 2 August 2010  | CPR for 45 minutes and 7 debrillations later, Lorraine Brooks, my sister, age 43, survived a heart attack. It has been over 2 years now and she is still going strong. No she has no neurological deficits and she was back to work a month later as a shift supervisor. Today, she still works full time and yes she quit smoking......
  • Jamie Hobert

    Date Submitted: 28 July 2010  | My dad, 64 years young, was saved just two months ago - May 2010 - by a Good Samaritan who saw him collapse during a massive heart attack and performed hand-only-cpr. My dad did not come around until later but those 6-8 minutes before medics arrived, saved him AND his brain. After a quadruple bypass, he is recovering well!!! A miracle! I heard an ad for this site the next week on the radio and almost cried. Spread the word! Its a life-saver!
  • Amy Jones - Survivor

    Date Submitted: 9 February 2010  | September 7, 2009 I was 9 months pregnant. I was sleeping on the couch. I told my husband to get a good night sleep because we wouldn't have too many once the baby was here. He didn't listen to me & I'm so thankful. I went into Cardiac Arrest. He started CPR, 7 min. later the rescue crew arrived. The 3rd or 4th shock, they got a pulse. I was rushed to the hospital. They lost me twice in transport, but once again they got a pulse. Once I was stable they performed a c-section & took the baby. She arrived strong. I was admitted into ICU & placed in a coma while my body temperature was kept low. I was in a coma for several days. They implanted an ICD unit. Ten days later my daughter Elizabeth & I went home. The cause behind my arrest was Peripartum Cardiomyopathy (dilated cardiomyopathy that is typically between the last month of pregnancy and up to 5 months postpartum). My Husband and the Charlotte Rescue Crew at Ladder 26 and Engine 37 are my Heroes!
  • John Marvel - Survivor

    Date Submitted: 1 November 2009  | For a 52 year old, I was in pretty good shape, worked out consistently, blood pressure and cholesterol under control. On October 23, 2009, I had just started working out in the fitness center at work when I collapsed. I had a cardiac arrest and was down for the count. Luckily, Mark Moeller and Jeff Hampel performed CPR and saved my life. Their response was very quick as was the emergency personnel who responded. A triple bypass and six days later, I am at home recovering thanks to Jeff and Mark.
  • Zayden Kuite

    Date Submitted: 1 July 2008  | In less than 30 seconds Heidi Kuite’s 10-month-old son silently slipped under six inches of bath water.

    Zayden had gotten out of his safety bath seat when Heidi went to get a towel. Seconds later, he was submerged.

    Heidi’s husband Anthony returned to check on the baby and quickly pulled him out of the water. Zayden’s lips were blue and he wasn’t breathing.

    Anthony started giving breaths and called for his wife.

    Heidi had taken a CPR course four years earlier and knew what to do: immediately start CPR. Meanwhile, a family friend called 9-1-1.

    “I was praying as I was giving him CPR,” she says.

    Zayden regained consciousness and was taken to the hospital. He was released just four hours later. In August he celebrated his first birthday.

    Heidi still chokes up when she tells the story.

    “Don’t ever walk away from your baby in the bathtub, not even for a second,” Heidi says. “I think that everybody should learn CPR. It doesn’t take that long to do it, and it could save a life.”

  • Terry Whitney - Survivor

    Date Submitted: 23 November 2007  | When Terry Whitney woke up feeling sick the night after Thanksgiving 2007, he thought it was post-turkey indigestion. But when he didn’t feel better two hours and a few antacids later, his daughter, Erica, 22, wondered if it was more than an upset stomach.

    Erica called a pharmacist to make sure she wasn’t overlooking a heart attack warning sign. The pharmacist agreed with her dad: indigestion.

    “As soon as I hung up the phone, my dad said ‘Erica,’ and just dropped,” she said.

    Erica called for her mother and dialed 9-1-1. She and her fiancé, Josh, took turns performing CPR until an ambulance arrived with an AED. After four shocks, paramedics detected a slight heartbeat and rushed Terry to the hospital.

    Fearing brain damage, doctors put Terry into a medically induced coma and a hypothermic state, lowering his body temperature to 70 degrees. They prepared his family for the worst: Terry’s heart was fine, but he might have brain damage.

    After four days, the doctors decided to begin raising Terry’s body temperature. They began the warming process at midnight, and by 8 a.m. Terry was sitting up and talking.

    In July, less than a year later, Terry walked Erica down the aisle.

    “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her,” he says. “I just feel so fortunate.”

  • Darrel Arnold - Survivor

    Date Submitted: 11 July 2007  | Darrel Arnold thought he was invincible — until he collapsed on the sidelines while coaching a baseball game last summer. The 34-year-old high school history teacher and baseball coach had suffered sudden cardiac arrest.

    A co-worker started cardiopulmonary resuscitation, while two others scaled a construction fence to get an AED from the athletic director’s office. They were able to shock Darrel and continue CPR until paramedics arrived.

    Darrel spent six days in the hospital. He now has a pacemaker and an implanted defibrillator to address any future problems with his heart’s electrical system.

    His recovery has taken longer than he’d like and includes some lifestyle restrictions. No driving for seven months. No carrying his three-year-old daughter on his shoulders. No push-ups or chest exercises.

    “I can’t put any stress on my chest,” he says.

    But Darrel isn’t letting that negatively affect his attitude. He has become active in a victim’s advocacy group and is working to implement AED programs in Orange County schools.

    “I was very fortunate,” he says. “I have a different perception of what’s important in life.”

  • Gretchen Minchew  - Survivor

    Date Submitted: 1 March 2007  | Gretchen Minchew cleared her throat, took a sip of water and stood up to give a client presentation.

    Then she collapsed to the floor.

    Her clients froze. Then someone left to find the staff nurse. Another person got a handkerchief to wipe blood off Gretchen’s face – her forehead had hit the edge of the conference table as she fell.

    No one thought to start CPR. For six minutes, the 57-year-old consultant lay lifeless.

    The staff nurse – who’d just had hip surgery – hobbled into the room on crutches. When she saw that Gretchen had no pulse, she immediately dropped to the floor to start CPR. She ordered someone to call 9-1-1 and to get the on-site automated defibrillator.

    Two shocks from the AED — no response. The nurse fervently continued CPR until paramedics arrived.

    In the ambulance, the emergency crew worked on Gretchen for another 14 minutes before they got a pulse.

    In the hospital, Gretchen was diagnosed with a 95 percent blockage in her right coronary artery. She underwent an angioplasty to open the artery.

    Nearly one year later, Gretchen has made a full recovery. Her doctors told her it was a miracle she survived without any brain damage. Now she shares her story through public speaking engagements.

    Her message? Get trained in CPR, and don’t be afraid to use it.

    “I am going to get a big tattoo on my forehead that says ‘Don’t stop CPR,’” she says. “If that nurse had given up on me, I wouldn’t be here today.”

  • Stuart Thompson - Survivor

    Date Submitted: 22 April 2003  | More than a decade ago Steve Thompson watched helplessly at a wedding as another guest collapsed and nearly died.

    No one started CPR.

    “It stayed in the back of my mind,” he said. “I didn’t want to be in the situation ever again where someone needed help and there was nothing I could do.”

    In 2003, he decided to take a CPR course.

    Just six months later, he walked into the gym where he was a member in Raleigh, N.C., to find 38-year-old Stuart Thompson collapsed on the floor.

    No one was doing anything.

    Stunned onlookers had been watching Stuart shake and turn blue for two minutes as they waited for paramedics to arrive.

    When Steve saw Stuart on the floor, he checked his pulse and immediately started CPR. Minutes later paramedics arrived with an AED and shocked Stuart.

    After a week in the hospital and six months of recovery, Stuart knows he is lucky.

    “Doctors don’t know how I am able to walk or talk or work,” he says. “I was very fortunate.”

    The experience has sparked a friendship between Stuart and Steve.

    “Steve always tells me that he doesn’t even know if he did the CPR right,” Stuart says. “I tell him that I thought he did it perfectly!”

  • Mary Jo Cipollini - Survivor

    Date Submitted: 1 April 2003  | Mary Jo Cipollini nearly died the day she dropped her groceries, collapsed in a parking lot and landed face first on a gallon of milk. She thinks that milk might have saved her face. But she knows that CPR saved her life. She was only 36.

    Mary Jo was shopping for groceries at the local Price Chopper in Poughkeepsie, NY. She received a phone call from her six-year-old daughter’s school: Ally had an ear infection and needed to be picked up. “I checked out with seven bags on my arm.”

    Mary Jo recalls that as she crossed the parking lot to get to her car she began to jerk. “I tried to get my balance but dropped my bags and fell. Someone called 9-1-1 and someone else yelled into the store for help.”

    Produce Manager Jim Fleming responded. When he dashed to the parking lot, he discovered that Mary Jo didn’t have a pulse. He performed CPR while a bystander tried to get her pulse. When the ambulance arrived, the EMTs used an AED (automated external defibrillator) twice to restart her heart. Then she was rushed to the hospital.

    Mary Jo said the police delivered the news to her husband, Joseph, at work. They got the keys out of his hands before he could drive. His question: “’Will she be alive when I get there?’ They said they didn’t know.”

    In the ER, they ran test after test. “They basically told my husband that if I survived the first night I would need long-term rehabilitation. They put Tommy, my two-year-old son, on my chest and then they would yell to wake me up. I didn’t recognize anyone.”

    After many days in the hospital, Mary Jo learned she had ventricular fibrillation, a condition in which the heart's electrical activity becomes disordered and the heart pumps little or no blood. She had a pacemaker/defibrillator implanted.

    At home, adjusting to life with a pacemaker wasn’t easy. Mary Jo ticks off a short list of what she couldn’t do: be left alone, carry Tommy, drive or even remember the name of a person she just met a moment before. “My short-term memory took a big hit because I was deprived of oxygen for so long. I gradually recognized my family. I had minimal damage to my heart, which is a miracle.” Today, Mary Jo is mostly recovered and has resumed her active lifestyle with her husband and Ally, now 10, and Tommy, 6. She still has trouble with her memory and visits her doctor every two months, but is grateful for her life.

    Mary Jo knows she owes her “second chance” to Jim Fleming’s knowledge of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), a combination of rescue breathing and chest compressions.

    Now 41, Mary Jo is a passionate advocate for CPR and defibrillation. “Sudden cardiac arrest can happen anytime — at a little league field or in a grocery store. And if it happens in public, people should be as lucky as I am. Knowing CPR, you can help save a life. Of all the people in the store, you wouldn’t have thought it would be me,” says Mary Jo, who didn’t smoke and went to the gym three days a week. “I was probably one of the youngest and the fittest.”

    Mary Jo adds that cardiac arrests most often end in tragedy, but the tragedy is that they don’t have to. “The hour I was saved, 19 other people died. If wasn’t for Jim knowing CPR, I would have been lying there, dying. Even if I had survived, without CPR I could have been like a vegetable.”

    When Mary Jo was asked to give a speech in Albany about her experience, she was at a loss for words. But not for long. “’My children were motherless for 10 minutes,’” she told the audience. “It was a harsh message, but it got their attention.”


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