Alexander Martin, Owings Mills, MD – 60 at time of event (2006)
Sandy is a die hard squash player, fit and powerful and of average height. He likes the doubles game best, and is quite competitive. In fact they have an annual championship between his family and the Corrigans, the in-laws, from the Metropolitan club in Washington DC, that’s running on 15 years now.
Nancy Pyrro, Littleton, MA – 49 at time of event (2002)
Nancy was packing boxes at 5:30am. She had sold her condo and needed to get out, but she also had to go to work! It was therefore a stressful period in her life. More stress than she bargained for, and certainly more stress than Wayne, now her husband, anticipated. Nancy complained about a back ache, and also that her chest was painful. She went downstairs and stood outside near his truck. Realizing that Nancy’s complaint was serious Wayne helped her into the truck and they set off for the hospital.
“We were going down the highway and I said, ‘I think I’m going to pass out’ and that was it, I dropped dead.” Nancy said in a calm voice.
My name is Greta Standish. I am a mother of 5 and I am 39 years old and also 2 ½ years old.
September 2, 2006 was the day my life changed forever. The first part of my story will be told from the recollection of others – the story may be incomplete because my husband, who is a major part in this story does not like to talk about this. It is simply too painful. It is easier for me because I don't remember. I am almost a third party to the entire experience.
We were in Vicksburg, Michigan with my husband's extended family, celebrating Labor Day. I was sitting at my mother-in-laws kitchen table, making peach salsa and talking to my husband's cousins. Mid-sentence, I went stiff. My husband's cousin went to find my husband, Brian, and told him that it looked like I was having a seizure. Brian came over, and found me in the chair with my eyes opened and glazed. I wasn't breathing and had no pulse.
It started like any other day, but I decided to exercise first thing that Thursday morning. At 7 a.m., my heart stopped pumping blood while I was exercising at the YMCA, and I nearly died. Before my heart went into ventricular fibrillation, I was the picture of health. Although I had a pre-existing heart condition known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or "Athlete's Heart," I had never been on any medication. I was always active in the gym and played football throughout my youth and then at the University of Virginia.
On Father's Day 2007, I fell down dead just feet from the finish line of the Latta Plantation Triathlon. I don't mean that I was exhausted. I mean my heart stopped beating. An EMT, one of eight who worked to revive me, recalls my last breath. I only remember a few seconds of dizziness and then darkness.
Michaela Gagne, Falls River, MA – 15 at time of event (1998)
As a teenager Michaela was not thinking about crowns and gowns. She preferred shorts and boots—soccer boots that is. Despite her ambition to be a Division 1 player Michaela was crowned Miss Massachusetts in 2006 and went on to compete for the title of Miss America 2007. Her platform issue was Heart Health: Listen, Learn, and Live. How is it that a self-confessed tomboy suddenly started entering beauty pageants?
Michael McKee, Minneapolis, MN – 58 at time of event (2008)
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.
Anne Duffy, Moorestown, NJ – 37 at time of event (2007)
It was a stressful week in early December, and their son’s fifth birthday party had taken it’s toll. They were relaxing on the sofa together, after dinner. Anne felt dizzy and some nausea. She started to say “I think I’m going to pass out,” but didn’t get that far. David felt her fall into his lap.
“He thought I was joking around. He’d been teasing me that I had been really tired for a couple of weeks before. We were going to rent a movie or something.” But Anne was not kidding around, she was dying.
Dale Wakasugi, St Paul, MN – 49 at time of event (2007)
It all started in Seattle sometime in 1995. Dale was a victim of his heredity, and not a traditional Japanese one. Working in the pharmaceutical industry he was only 36 years old, and yet he suffered a heart attack. Technically known as an MI (Myocardial Infarction) it was caused by a blockage of his LAD (Left Anterior Descending artery). He had been a very active, non-drinker, non-smoker who played college baseball. The blockage wasn’t severe enough to warrant a stent, so diet and exercise were prescribed. Dale moved to Minnesota for his job and regularly visited his cardiologist, undergoing annual stress tests which he passed every time.
Kim Zalepa, Interlaken, NJ – 40 at time of event (2008)
It was their first skiing trip with the kids. Kim was feeling nervous, almost like a novice, since she hadn’t been skiing for over a decade. They’d had two daughters in eight years and felt it was time to enjoy a day in the snow that March. Kim and her husband,Todd, took the girls to Shawnee mountain in Pennsylvania for what they thought would be a day trip.