Master Swimmers Don't Die…

Master Swimmers Don't Die…

Brian Duffield, Tucson, AZ – 40 at time of event (2006)

Brian Duffield

Brian is a member of a US Masters Swimmer group. There are about 40 of them in Tucson that get together regularly and swim their hearts out at the University of Arizona pool. On this particular Tuesday morning Brian nearly did! About half way into the session he didn’t feel at all well, and got out of the pool with an unusual fatigue. He decided to finish for the day and shower. That was when his chin hit the floor. He doesn’t know anything about it as he was unconscious at the time. Luckily, a young man witnessed the fall and raised the alarm.

Normally Diane Wygal-Springer, a Tucson Fire Department EMT, trains at that pool in the middle of the day. This particular Tuesday she decided on an early morning swim. Lucky for Brian, as she started Compression-only CPR immediately. Someone brought over the AED, and just as she was about to connect it up the paramedics called out, “Don’t, don't, don’t!” They had just arrived and saw Brian lying in a pool of water and feared the shocks could be transferred to Diane. She replied,”Hey, guys it’s me!” When they saw it was the captain of their fire department they relaxed…

University Medical Centre was only a few blocks away so they had Brian into the ER pronto.

Alas, Brian’s body was contorted as though he was having a neurological event. This threw the ER physicians off for a while; critically, one of them did not let Brian’s case rest. Fortunately, he underwent an angiogram where they discovered a blockage in his LAD artery. Brian’s luck didn’t stop there, during the procedure he shivered, due to the hypothermia cooling blanket, and that dislodged the stubborn clot -- just as the cardiologist was deciding to start open heart surgery!

Therefore, Brian is not a member of the “zipper club” nor does he have an ICD.

“They determined it was not an electrical issue, just a rogue, freak, piece of plaque that got stuck. They told me ‘You’ll live to a hundred Brian, it’ll never happen again!’. So, knock on wood!” Brian said with just a little jest.

He has survived one of the country’s most prevalent causes of death, without a scar! Well, physically that is. He still can’t quite accept why events lined up all so fortuitously.

“It’s definitely luck, the stories you hear it’s always ‘right place, right time’… Why? I haven't quite figured that out just yet,” Brian quipped.


-Jeremy Whitehead

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