Ed Fernandes remembers driving with his grandson from Miamisburg to Cincinnati on Jan. 15 to watch the Las Vegas Raiders take on the Cincinnati Bengals in the first game of the 2021 NFL playoffs. He remembers parking with his grandson and walking toward Paul Brown Stadium.
The next thing the 78-year-old man said he remembers is waking up in a bed at UC Medical Center days later with his grandson and wife standing over him, telling him he had gone into cardiac arrest.
“It was a huge surprise,” said Fernandes, a lifelong Raiders fan originally from Oakland, Calif. “They said ... ‘You had a little miracle happen for you.’ ”
That miracle occurred after Fernandes collapsed to the pavement, and lifelong Bengals fan Jerry Mills bolted into action. The former Covington, Ky. firefighter who now works as an emergency room nurse in Dallas, Texas, checked Fernandes for a pulse and found none. With another nurse coming to the scene to open an airway, Mills helped revive and stabilize Fernandes via CPR and an automated external defibrillator (AED).
“In the medical field, we know ‘time is tissue,’ so immediate and effective CPR is paramount in cardiac arrest,” Mills, who did rotations at UC Medical Center while completing work in the paramedic program at University of Cincinnati’s Clermont campus, told UC Health officials.
Fernandes’ case was complicated. He didn’t have only a heart attack, which occurs when an artery that delivers oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle is blocked. He had a ventricular fibrillation arrest, meaning his heart stopped beating on its own for a period of time and his arteries were critically blocked, which impacted the electrical function of his heart.
Taken to UC Medical Center, Fernandes eventually underwent open heart surgery, a coronary artery bypass graft with a mitral valve repair courtesy of cardiac surgeon Dr. Louis B. Louis IV, along with cardiologists, nurses, respiratory therapists and others at UC Health’s Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit.
He spent nearly three weeks in the hospital recovering before being released.
Had Fernandes not received bystander CPR, along with AED, his brain would not have received the oxygen needed, and he wouldn’t have survived, UC Health said. A staggering 90% of people who experience an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest die before they make it to the hospital, according to the American Heart Association. But with CPR, the chance of survival for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest can double or triple.
“I’m thankful to be here,” Fernandes said. “I’m thankful I’m alive.”
Fernandes, who continues to recover at his Miamisburg home with his wife, Pat, said he remains grateful to Mills for his quick-thinking action to revive him.
“When I recover, I want to take some time and go visit him,” he said. “I’m just super gratified that he was continuing his education and job training in that (medical) area and knew what to do right away. He saved my life.”
He’s also extremely thankful to the staff of UC Health for their swift actions to repair and save his heart and to care so well for him afterward.
“You just can’t get to a better place,” Fernandes said. “They were great.”
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