Posted by SCAFoundation on 03/19/2008
Rob Elliot - San Francisco - 45 at the time of the event (5/27/03)

On May 27, 2003, Rob Elliot became a trendsetter, but it just may be that others will no longer be able to follow that trend.

While “leaning against the couch, listening to the stereo,” Rob suddenly fell to the floor of his living room, a victim of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). When his wife, who was with him at the time, got no response after looking down and chiding "Don't joke about this," she knew that it was no joke and called for emergency assistance. Although help arrived within two minutes, Rob's heart must be of the stubborn kind because, he reports, he was told that it took multiple chest compressions with a new device called AutoPulse™ to get his heart back in rhythm.

"I was in and out of it," during that time, he said. Later he was told that he was the first person ever to be saved by the fledgling automated cardiac pump device.

But two recent studies have proven, at least in the minds of some experts, that the device is not an efficient means of saving lives—a finding with which Rob takes exception. "They are not gung-ho on AutoPulse™, but I am," he says.

However, resuscitation efforts did take some time and Rob says he was told that he was without a sustainable heartbeat for some 27 minutes. While no permanent brain damage occurred, it took Rob about two months and an implantable defibrillator to get back to work as an employment attorney. Now, however, he is happy to report that things are going along as planned.

“I'm leading pretty much the same life,” Rob said of the before and after phases of the SCA, “it's just that everything is a little more of a chore,” due to increased fatigue.

Maybe so, but it hasn't stopped him from rafting down the Truckee River or jet skiing on Lake Tahoe. In his mind, it is all a matter of timing. “Some people get hit crossing the street and they're dead,” he said, "I'm still here.”

All because of a device that some people say doesn't work.

- A.J. Caliendo