Beating the Odds: Cardiac Arrest

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Margie and her family enjoy a meal together

A Los Angeles-based family embarked on a road trip to Lake Tahoe. Little did they know – things would take an unexpected turn when the matriarch of the family experienced sudden cardiac arrest, bringing them to Renown Regional Medical Center’s Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (ICU).   

On their way to Lake Tahoe, Margie, her husband, Neal, and two of their adult children stopped in Bishop, Calif. for a hike and overnight visit. After an enjoyable time traversing the great outdoors, they were ready for a relaxing evening. 

Back in the hotel room, Margie FaceTimed one of her children (not present on the road trip). As she spoke, she dropped her phone and closed her eyes – and that’s when her family sprang into action.

Margie Experienced Sudden Cardiac Arrest  

Realizing Margie was nonresponsive, Neal quickly checked her pulse – which was nonexistent. Luckily, Neal knew CPR. While he and a hotel guest performed CPR on Margie, their children hastily called for an ambulance. Thankfully, help soon arrived.

After eight minutes of emergency medical technicians administering electric shock therapy using an automated external defibrillator, Margie had a pulse again and was stable. She received further care at a hospital in Bishop. However, the emergency doctors urged Margie to go to a trauma center. 

Margie suffered from sudden cardiac arrest, which means her heart suddenly stopped beating. If the heartbeat isn’t restarted within minutes, this condition can be fatal. Thanks to Neal’s swift CPR efforts, his children’s prompt assistance, and the helpful people and caregivers they met in Bishop, coupled with the emergency medical services Margie received, she had a heartbeat again.

Nonetheless, she was still unresponsive.

An Uncertain Road Ahead 

Margie was transferred to Renown Regional Medical Center via air medical helicopter, while Neal and the children made the five-hour drive to Reno in the middle of the night.  

“That drive felt like a lifetime,” said Neal. “We didn’t know if Margie was going to make it. We were emotional and exhausted. I did my best to stay strong for our children.” 

Upon Margie’s arrival at Renown, her cardiologists immediately started running tests to determine the best treatment plan for her survival and well-being. 

“Margie’s care team was unsure if Margie would survive; however, they were ready to fight and do whatever they could to save the matriarch of our family. As terrified as I was at the time, I felt a sense of relief knowing we were in good hands,” said Neal.   

Margie’s doctors used therapeutic hypothermia, lowering her body temperature to around 89°F to 93°F, to improve her likelihood of waking up again. After 30 hours of treatment, Margie opened her eyes.  

While several weeks would pass before Margie would begin acting like herself again, it soon became apparent that she would pull through. Her family and caregivers were equally delighted.  

The Silver Lining During a Difficult Time 

Neal was determined to express his gratitude for everyone he and his family crossed paths with while at Renown.  

“While we nervously waited for Margie to regain consciousness, the wonderful people at Renown became like family to us,” said Neal. “From the highly-skilled cardiologists and compassionate nursing staff to the understanding chaplain and caring, patient-experience specialists, we were constantly amazed by the concern and warmth they showed each of us. Renown even went as far as covering a substantial portion of our stay at the Inn at Renown. We cannot thank the amazing team at Renown enough for helping our family through the darkest 30 hours of our lives.”  

Before leaving Renown, Margie received an implantable cardio-defibrillator, a small device placed in the chest that monitors its rhythm. This device sends electric shocks to Margie’s heart to correct any abnormal activity, including sudden cardiac arrest. 

Margie’s Health is a Miracle 

Today, Margie lives a normal, healthy life with no signs of brain damage or other irreparable trauma. Her health is truly a miracle.  

“Our family will always be grateful for the care, compassion, and hospitality we received at Renown,” added Neal. “Reno, and the amazing individuals we associate with it, will forever hold a special place in our hearts. Thank you, Renown Health, for saving our family.”  

Related: Heart Attack Survivor Fights The Good Fight

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