“I called my sister and told her, ‘I need you to come because I think Mark just died,’” said Jane Humble.
Her husband, Mark, went into cardiac arrest at their Grand Forks home. He was shocked back to life three times before Altru’s paramedics got him to the hospital. Collapsed and blocked stents in his heart were repaired and reopened.
Ten days later, he went home.
“Everything must have run like clockwork, or I wouldn’t be here,” said Mark.
Mark and Jane were preparing for Easter brunch the next morning. Mark was sore from moving things around, so he laid down about 10 p.m. Their daughter, Katherine, checked on him a while later. Mark was unresponsive. Jane began CPR and told Katherine to call 911.
In the meantime, Katherine got their next door neighbor, retired from the Air Force, to come help with CPR.
“I thought having been in the Air Force, he might have known CPR better than me,” said Jane. It took them all to move Mark to the floor. Their neighbor then began chest compressions, breaking Mark’s ribs, but wanting to make sure the compressions were getting to his heart.
“The paramedics and ambulance got there so fast,” said Jane. “Usually people say, ‘They took so long,’ but they must have flown across town. I couldn’t believe how fast they got to our house.”
“I’ll never forget how Mark’s face looked,” continued Jane. “His eyes were fixed, and he was changing color. He didn’t see me. He wasn’t there.”
The paramedics shocked Mark three times and continued compressions on their way out to the ambulance. The last responder out of the house told Jane to call whoever needed to be called.
“Everything happened so fast. We called 911 at 10:30 p.m., and they were already en route back to Altru at 10:50 p.m. The turnaround was unbelievable.”
Riding with a police officer to Altru, Jane called other family members, as well as their pastor.
Speedy and Surreal
When they arrived at the emergency room, Dr. Stewart Schanzenbach examined Mark. He then met briefly with Jane.
“Dr. Schanzenbach and a chaplain came in and shut the door behind them,” she said. “I thought they were telling me Mark didn’t make it. Thankfully, they were instead telling me cardiology was ready to take Mark to the cath lab.”
“Had Dr. Go not gotten to the hospital so quickly, if everything hadn’t gone how it did, I don’t think Mark would be here today,” she said. “He’s the same now as he was before. The whole thing is surreal.”
Many family members and friends visited during Mark’s recovery in the intensive care unit.
“The nurses were really good to us,” said Jane. “Mark has quite a few siblings. With all their spouses, children, nieces and nephews, plus our friends, it was quite a few people. They all worked to be respectful and not overstep boundaries, but the nurses were understanding and tried to accommodate everyone.”
Dr. Go continued to check on Mark throughout his recovery and even after releasing Mark back to Dr. Abdel Ahmed, Mark’s primary cardiologist.
“Dr. Go was so good about talking with us,” said Jane. “He had a vested interest in Mark since he did the procedure. As the spouse, I need a doctor who will talk to me and tell me what’s going on, because I play a part in Mark’s recovery, too. Dr. Go did just that.”
“You breathe a huge sigh of relief knowing somebody actually cares about you,” said Mark.
Mark was discharged ten days after cardiac arrest. He is recovering well.
“I remember the day I went home, but that’s about it,” Mark continued. “I never saw ‘the light.’ After learning what happened, I pictured everything unfolding on a TV show, only I was the patient. I’m very thankful for Dr. Go and everyone who took part in my care. Thanks doesn’t seem like enough, considering they kept me alive.”
Have you ever had to dial 9-1-1 for a health emergency? How was your experience with Altru’s emergency services? Let us know.