ARL O’BRYAN, 60, of Lake Charles, Louisiana,
is alive today thanks to modern medicineand divine intervention.
Twice in two years, the retired plant engineer had suffered complete
cardiac arrest. Cardiologist Michael Turner, MD, said the odds of
surviving sudden cardiac arrest just once are one in ten. Not only
did Carl survive two such incidents, he managed to return to an
Carl’s first brush with death came in September 1997. The
former self-described ‘workaholic’ had retired after
suffering a heart attack in 1976 and a stroke ten years later. He
was recovering well with rehab and therapy and had begun to show
the same dedication to his exercise regimen he once had for his
job. Carl and his wife of 35 years, Ruby, were regulars at a local
fitness club and exercised five or six days a week.
On this particular day, Carl and Ruby were side-by-side exercising,
when Carl suddenly fell to the ground. Ruby asked someone to call
9-1-1, fearing the worst.
thought ‘I’m going to leave here a widow,’”
she recalled. Luckily, Cheryl Breaux, a nurse at CHRISTUS St. Patrick
Hospital, also happened to be working out at the health club. She
performed CPR on Carl until emergency help arrived. An emergency
medical technician used defibrillator paddles to shock Carl’s
heart back in rhythm.
No doubt, Cheryl’s quick actions and the work of the emergency medical
technicians had saved Carl’s life. He was transported to the CHRISTUS
St. Patrick emergency room, where Dr. Turner quickly detected ventricular
fibrillationa condition caused by abnormal heartbeats. Carl’s
heart was beating rapidly causing uncoordinated contractions, so
it couldn’t pump blood effectively. If his heart’s normal rhythm
had not been restored quickly, his condition could have been fatal.
At the hospital, Carl’s condition was stabilized. Dr. Turner performed
surgery to implant a small defibrillator in his chest that could
recognize an abnormal heartbeat and get it back into normal rhythm.
Only one year later, Carl and Ruby were working out together when
Carl suddenly fell to the ground again. This time, she didn’t have
much time to think about what was happening, because Carl stood
up and tried to get back on the treadmill. The implanted defibrillator
had done its job, saving Carl’s life.
After a few days, Dr. Turner issued Carl a clean bill of health.
Today, he and Ruby are back to their normal routine of exercising
five or six days a week. They also find time to volunteer at CHRISTUS
St. Patrick Hospital, enjoy plays, socialize with neighbors, and
Carl is grateful to Dr. Turner, CHRISTUS St. Patrick Associates,
paramedics, his “guardian angel” Cheryl Breaux, and
the divine intervention that placed them all at the right placejust
when he needed them most.
Kay Granger Morgan
CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital
Lake Charles, Louisiana