Miracle Moments
Divine Intervention  

ARL O’BRYAN, 60, of Lake Charles, Louisiana, is alive today thanks to modern medicine—and 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 active lifestyle.

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.

Pullquote“I 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 fibrillation—a 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 attend church.

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 place—just when he needed them most.

Kay Granger Morgan
Community Relations
CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital
Lake Charles, Louisiana