LEHIGH VALLEY HEALTH NETWORK
An Emmaus man who survived what is usually referred to as a “widow maker” cardiac arrest in July, was reunited with the first responders whose fast and effective emergency response restored his heartbeat and with doctors who performed cardiac intervention measures at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest.
With hugs and a few tears, Patrick Barry, along with his wife, Carol, met with the police officer, firefighter, emergency medical technicians and the “Good Samaritan” bystander whose quick response calling the Lehigh County 911 Center, allowed him to recover completely from a heart attack in which the first symptom is usually sudden death. The reunion took place at a Dec. 20 event sponsored by the hospital.
Barry and his wife expressed their profound gratitude to the first responders’ emergency first aid and to the hospital’s cardiac doctors and heart care staff. Barry said it was “the sovereignty of God” that allowed “just the right combination” of people and events to be there to care for his needs and result in “being able to stand before you today.”
The cardiac episode took place along Pennsylvania Avenue in Emmaus on July 21 as the 52-year-old Barry was jogging to a gym for a workout. Bystander Rebecca Fetterman found him lying unconscious along a sidewalk. She summoned help through the Lehigh County 911 Communications Center and police, fire and ambulance workers arrived “within moments,” she said.
The first responders took turns doing chest compression maneuvers to keep blood moving to the Barry’s brain, the essential component in cardiac arrest victim survival. The emergency response was complicated by the fact Barry had left for the gym with no identifying documents, thinking he had no reason to carry his wallet for a workout.
After he was transported to Lehigh Valley Hospital, he was diagnosed with a 95-percent blockage of his left anterior descending artery, a cardiovascular event which is commonly fatal.
When Barry failed to return home as expected, his wife checked with gym personnel, who said he never arrived. She then called Emmaus police, who informed her of the sequence of events revolving around the unconscious victim being treated at the hospital.
When Barry’s wife arrived at the hospital, she was informed he was gravely ill and that a balloon angioplasty had been performed to break up the blockage and a stent had been deployed in an artery.
To take the burden off of his failing heart, a small, straw-like heart pump, called Impella®, was fed into his heart through a femoral artery.
Because his collapse was unwitnessed, the cardiac team had no way of knowing how long his brain had been deprived of oxygen. A decision was made by the critical care team to “cool” Barry’s core body temperature for 24 hours – a process called therapeutic hypothermia – to improve his chances of return to normal brain function. Barry said he “praised God and his caregivers” that he survived with normal cognitive functions intact.
Barry was discharged after 10 days at the hospital – a walking testament to the breadth of life-saving technologies employed by the heart care specialists at the Lehigh Valley Heart Institute.
After three weeks of recovery, Barry returned to work and said he is “closely following” the orders of his cardiologist, Dr. Benjamin Sanchez.
Barry also said he has determined to “never again leave home without my identification with me.”