My father, continued

Laura and I just returned from San Diego, where my father is in the cardiac care unit of UCSD Medical Center. On Wednesday, he was at a leadership conference, and out of nowhere, he collapsed to the floor. Somebody noticed his heart had stopped, so they started CPR, but CPR doesn’t do a whole lot for the condition my dad experienced. Luckily, the hotel he was in happened to have an automated external defibrillator (AED) on hand, which they placed on his chest, and after two jolts, started his heart again and brought him back alive. Within hours, he was basically fine again.

normal heartbeat
Normal heartbeat
ventricular fibrillation
Ventricular fibrillation

The condition my father experienced is ventricular fibrillation (VF), where the electrical activity of the heart causes it to lose its coordination and stop pumping blood. This is not the same as a heart attack, which is usually a problem with the muscle or blockage. The survival rate on VF is 4% outside of the hospital. Four percent. Scary. The AED saved his life. We’re so lucky that one was nearby and that we still have a father.

So, since not many victims of cardiac arrest and VF in particular survive, my dad’s a bit of a celebrity now, and various doctors and interns have come in to say hello. His picture and story are even going to be used in publications for San Diego’s Project Heart Beat, a program to make AEDs ubiquitous. My dad’s company, Terex, is going to place AEDs in every plant and office building. They’re so cheap (you can even order them on amazon.com) and so easy to use (basically automatic) that there’s no reason public places, hotels, office buildings, etc. shouldn’t have them. So yeah, we’re big fans now.

Anyway, we’re blessed that my father is still with us, and I guarantee we won’t take any of our family for granted anymore. Events like this seem to have that effect.

Update: I guess my sister wrote an update too.

5 thoughts on “My father, continued”

  1. Wow, that’s a pretty amazing story… the right technology in the right place combined with people that are willing to grab it and use it. I’m glad to hear everything is ok.

    -Tyler

  2. Yay! I’m glad everything is going fine! I’ve also read about ICDs. Brandon first told me about them. And, at first, I thought it might prevent your dad from continuing doing usual daily activities after he gets released (because of the ICD) and got really sad. But it seems he’ll be able to return to daily life without any serious side effects. So hurray! : )

  3. Yeah, it’s good, because he’s still pretty active. :)

    He may not be able to work with as many tools as he has in the past, but we’ll have to see.

  4. Yeah, I’ve heard that you gotta stay away from strong magnetic fields and such but I don’t think he works with such things a lot. But yeah, as you said, “we’ll have to see” :).

    And the 4% survival rate… Man, miracles do happen :)

  5. Amazing Story. I wonder what it would take to make sure every hotel in the country had one of these available! Maybe we should put the Gideons on it. (-; Thanks for sharing!

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