Posted on 11/09/2019
John Hart and Jeff McBride
John Hart and Jeff McBride

Survivor: Jeff McBride

Date of Event:

Location of Event: Home, Kenilworth, IL

John Hart and Tom McElin

My husband, Jeff, and I went to Chicago in September 2019 for the 50th reunion of his eighth grade class at Joseph Sears School in Kenilworth, IL. The weekend was full of events that culminated with a 2-on-2 hoop game among a few of the guys. The game was hosted at the home of a classmate, John Hart, who still resides in the community.

The game started around 11:15 am.  Shortly thereafter, I watched as Jeff took the ball, dribbled, and suddenly crumpled to the ground. I exclaimed that he had a heart condition (a-fib, which I thought at the time was related to the collapse) and yelled for someone to call 911 and asked who knew CPR. Tom McElin phoned 911, and John Hart grabbed some pillows for Jeff’s legs, composed himself and began chest compressions. I held Jeff’s head in my hands speaking to him all along as he lost color in his hands and turned blue. Tom was on the phone with the 911 dispatcher relaying info and getting further instruction. The first police officer arrived within a couple of minutes and took over CPR.  Another police officer, who was previously an EMT, arrived immediately after with an AED and jump-started Jeff to finally resuscitate him. The EMS squad was right there to continue stabilizing and drive just 3.3 miles to North Shore University Evanston Hospital, one of the best cardiac care centers in the country.

Jeff didn’t regain consciousness. He was stabilized and placed in an induced coma using a hypothermia protocol. Several days later, he regained consciousness and responded favorably to neurological stimulation, which was very encouraging as there was evidence of small bleeds in the brain. There were a few other complications along the way. At the end of it all, Jeff is on the road to a full recovery. 

The determination is that Jeff’s SCA was idiopathic v-fib. No arterial blockages; no heart disease. He is quite healthy. He left the hospital two weeks later with Joh!, an ICD, so named with the initials of his grade school friend, John, who initiated CPR and the two police officers who helped revive him. Jeff’s a-fib condition we are told was totally unrelated to the SCA. In a way though, it helped to actually save his life because it prompted me to take immediate action.

Jeff McBride and Tom McElin
Jeff McBride and Tom McElin

All of the other ball-playing and spectator classmates and their spouses met me at the ER. They stuck by my side for the next few days until my family arrived, and still, they established a virtual support network. John Hart, his wife and their dog, Bailey, hosted me and my family as they rotated in for two weeks. Bonds of friendship have been restored beyond anything imaginable.

Truly, all made the best of a bad situation thanks to awareness, presence of mind and immediate action with a call to 911 and CPR. 

We are eternally grateful to everyone who helped save Jeff for a full recovery and a renewed, meaningful, quality life.  A perfect rainbow, as my sister coined.

I truly hope this story influences other people to learn how to respond to a similar emergency situation and to learn at least basic chest compressions. Our story proves it can save a life.