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Sudden Cardiac Arrest Survivor

My husband Mark had just gotten home from his Sunday night hockey league. With our four kids in bed, I was about to iron my scrubs when I heard this loud thud. Mark had collapsed on the floor, was gasping for air, sweating and turning blue. I called 911 and started performing CPR until the paramedics arrived. It took three rounds of shocks, but finally they were able to restart Mark's heart. By then, he had fallen into a coma. I asked the ambulance to take us to St. Luke's.

When Becky Holmstrom [St. Luke's ICU nurse] found out that Mark was undergoing induced hypothermia, she volunteered to stay on for another eight hours to monitor him through the night. (She even called us on her day off to find out how Mark was doing.) About 18 hours later, a battery of tests diagnosed his condition as ventricular tachycardia with sudden cardiac arrest. Mark has an ICD now and is doing great. We're both so grateful to St. Luke's for his care.

It was a typical Sunday evening for the Ward family. With their four children down for the night and husband Mark home from his Sunday night hockey league, Sarah, who works at Northland OB-GYN Associates, was about to iron her scrubs. Suddenly, she heard a loud thud. Her active, 36-year-old husband had collapsed on the floor and was gasping for air, sweating and turning blue.

Sarah called 911 and immediately began performing CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) until the paramedics arrived. After three rounds of shocks, Mark's heart finally restarted, but by then he had fallen into a coma. Sarah insisted the ambulance take them to St. Luke's.

Back at St. Luke's ICU, Becky Holmstrom, RN, was nearing the end of her shift when she learned about a patient in cardiac arrest. More importantly, the patient had just begun the process of induced hypothermia. Becky had not only led efforts in the writing and implementation of the hypothermia protocol for St. Luke's, she was also the only staff member on duty who had performed the innovative cooling process. She immediately agreed to stay by Mark's side for the next eight hours. Wrapped in subzero cooling blankets with a cold saline solution circulating through his system, Mark's body temperature dropped to 32 degrees Celsius, while Becky and Sarah stood watch through the night.

Eighteen hours later, Mark was fully awake and off sedation. A team of cardiologists performed a battery of tests that diagnosed his condition as ventricular tachycardia with sudden arrest, a condition that can happen to anyone at any time–even young, healthy, active people like Mark Ward.

A week later, under the care of Dr. Porur Somasundaram of St. Luke's Cardiology Associates, Mark received an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), a small, battery-powered device that detects and corrects irregular heart rhythms. To maintain a clean bill of health, Mark monitors his device daily, sees his doctor for in-depth follow-up appointments and avoids contact sports–a small price to pay for surviving a near-death experience.

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