A Walk to Work Ends With a Miracle

A Walk to Work Ends With a Miracle

Michael McKee, Minneapolis, MN – 58 at time of event (2008)

Michael McKee

Michael struggles to maintain a healthy weight. He is committed to it. So much so that he walks the four miles or so to work and back each day. It’s quite pleasant, along the Mississippi river, past the University of Minnesota, and the University Hospital. “It was a morning like any other. I don’t remember any of the details.” Michael explained that the river is about 3/4 mile from home, and he was found on the river walk by a doctor riding to work on his bicycle.
“Initially, it was reported that he saw me go down, gave me CPR until the ambulance got there,” Michael said mysteriously. He understands the EMTs had to shock him several times to get a rhythm started, and transported him to the Hennepin County Medical Center. Since it was classified as a witnessed arrest this Level 1 Trauma Centre treated him with the hyperthermia protocol.
“In the ER they started a cool down process, ice-packing my armpits and crotch, so when I went up to the cardiology unit they started the therapeutic hypothermia. I believe I was cooled down for about 18 hours. I as covered in gel pads with a machine at the foot of the bed.” Michael now knows how important this treatment is. He can recall snippets of the eight or nine days in hospital; waking up, family from out of town, but no real memories. “I think, mentally, it was harder on my family and friends,” Michael said with some remorse. He eventually had an ICD implanted and was sent home to recuperate.

“I spent four weeks at home building up my walking again, so by the time I went back to work I was averaging the five miles a day again,” he said with pride. Some time later, Michael asked one of the cardiologists at the medical centre about the doctor who saved him. She gave him the email address and they arranged to get together for lunch. Now the story changes.
“First thing he said was, ‘I’m completely surprised you’re alive! I was sure when you went in the ambulance you weren’t going to make it.’ To which I replied ‘I’m very pleased that you didn’t give up on the CPR.’ But it turns out that no one saw me go down,” Michael said. “He had been riding his bike and saw two people standing over a body [on the ground]. When he stopped they said they hadn’t seen me go down. So it’s unknown how long I was down before [the CPR].” His cardiologist later explained that Michael had died, but was miraculously revived.

Michael believes the moral of this story is that the effort to revive someone is greater if it is a witnessed arrest. It certainly meant Michael had the greatest chance for a full recovery possible. He also met a fireman who gives CPR classes and was asked to give a talk to the refresher class.
“He wanted me to tell my story because fireman get pretty depressed about CPR. Because the survival rate is so low.” Mike’s story invigorated the fireman to perform CPR regardless of how poor the outcome looks—he’s a testament to the fact that “dead” is not necessarily definitive.
Unfortunately Michael’s family has a history of cardiac disease, and he suffered from hypertension, and high cholesterol. Indeed it was a blockage that caused his cardiac arrest. A stent resolved that problem and careful attention to his drug regime, plus the diet and exercise should keep him safe.

The coup de grâce of this story is that Michael’s hero was on his way to a seminar that morning, and he was not alone in saving Michael. There were two doctors performing CPR. One of the bystanders, from across the street, had fetched his house guest to help out—the doctor who was to give that seminar! Thus it was that they met before the scheduled event, and helped save yet another life.

-Jeremy Whitehead

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