Do you know CPR? Or would you know what to do if you saw someone collapse at the park or in the grocery store? Those questions became a reality for an Aberdeen woman who is alive today thanks to a few 'Good Samaritans.'
"There were a lot of people that help me that day and I don't know who they were but I'm grateful." Said Nancy Karlen.
It was a typical trip to Ken's SuperFair Foods but on February 28, Nancy Karlen's trip was anything but routine.
"I picked up everything and I remember writing a check because they said I had written a check and I was ready to go right out the front door where the carts are all at, then I have no knowledge of what happened from there." Said Karlen.
Nancy collapsed. One of her heart's arteries became completely blocked off.
"That's why she had the electrical rhythm problem, that's why her heart stopped was because the blood and muscle wasn't getting oxygen and became irritable and the heart rhythm went haywire as a result." Said Dr. David Ashpole, an interventional cardiologist at Avera St. Luke's Hospital.
Strangers at the local grocer quickly jumped into action. One called 911, another started CPR until the ambulance arrived. When Nancy made it to the hospital things looked bleak.
"They pretty much said I'm not going to make it… but I fooled them. I guess God said I still have something for you to do and I'm sorry to get emotional about it but you don't always face death and come back again!" Said Karlen.
The EKG revealed Nancy had a heart attack and she was quickly transferred to Avera St. Luke's cath lab to relieve the blocked artery.
"It (the artery) starts here and then is supposed to continue down all the way to the tip of the heart but there were narrowings here but the artery was completely blocked here and there's a faint shadow where the blood clot was." Said Dr. Ashpole.
Doctor Ashpole opened the artery and placed a stent to keep the blood flowing. Even with the expedited intervention, he says it's a miracle Nancy is still here. It's credit that can be given to the guardian angels who started CPR.
"It clearly saved her life and probably even more importantly it allowed blood to continue to flow to her brain and preserve her brain function." Said Dr. Ashpole.
"Everyone came within just a few minutes of each other! They said it was the fastest they had seen everything come together." Said Karlen.
Heart disease can strike at anytime and the need for immediate intervention is paramount.
Thanks to the team at Avera St. Luke's, the paramedics, and of course the kindness of strangers, Nancy has been given a rare second chance and shopping for groceries is never going to be the same again.
"I'm just grateful to be here and I'm grateful for Ken's and Avera because they were here for me and I didn't even know it!" Said Karlen.
The LUCAS chest compression system was also used on Nancy after paramedics arrived. The CPR machine helped keep Nancy's blood flowing on the way to the hospital. For more information about heart disease or CPR training just call 877-AT-AVERA.