Last Friday, Mercy heart patient Wayne Oswald went home after his recent quadruple bypass surgery at Mercy Heart Center. However, 81-year-old Wayne might never have reached the operating room had it not been for the quick action and CPR skills of two Mercy employees, as well as the medical center's emergency chest pain center and cath lab. Instead, he would have died following a major heart attack at Uniontown, Ohio's Lake High School on February 19.
Schar Oswald, Wayne's daughter-in-law, says Wayne has attended almost every Lake sporting event for years and was there to cheer on his grandson Jacob Oswald, a Lake Local Schools sophomore and member of the JV basketball squad. She was next to him when he suddenly fell to the floor.
“It was like time was frozen," she remembers. "His skin turned completely red and then blue. In that instant, I saw life leave him.”
CPR Team Never Gives Up
Betty Fagert, a Mercy radiologic technologist, and Adam Milligan, a Mercy athletic trainer assigned to Lake Local, witnessed the scene and responded. Joined by Summit County police officer Miguel Hunt and nurse Stacy Remark, Milligan led the life-saving CPR effort, administering breaths while Fagert delivered chest compressions. With assistance from Remark, Milligan also employed an AED, or automated external defibrillator.
Despite no pulse, the four never stopped CPR on Wayne until the ambulance arrived, approximately 10 minutes after they started.
Schar's husband Brent, Wayne's son and frequent sports event companion, was away on business. She says, “I lost my composure. When his color became gray, I knew Wayne was dead. I did not want to tell Brent that his father died. No one really believed there was anything that would save him, but Adam and the others did everything they could do.”
Prior to February 19, Milligan had not needed to put his CPR skills to the test. And although he was certain Wayne had died, Milligan noted the AED eventually detected a weak pulse. He credits the miraculous turn of events to God, the strength of a community coming together in a crisis, and the CPR and Mercy emergency heart catheterization teams.
“He would not have made it without all of us,” says Milligan. “And he would not have made it without the immediate heart catheterization he received in the Mercy Emergency Department.”
Like Milligan, Schar Oswald also believes faith played a critical role in the situation and is grateful that Lake Township resident Darrin Noble led a public prayer during CPR.
“I felt the presence of God. I think everyone felt it, as if it was connected to those prayers,” she says.
Everyone Should Get CPR Training
Within minutes of Wayne Oswald’s arrival at Mercy, Dr. Ahmed Sabe, MD, medical director of the heart center and co-director of the Mercy Emergency Chest Pain Center (ECPC), performed angioplasty to restore blood flow. All four vessels had been blocked. The next day, Dr. Aqeel Sandhu, cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon, completed the quadruple bypass procedure.
Dr. Sabe says the CPR team’s persistance played a major role in saving Wayne Oswald’s life. “If they had given up in the beginning, when they could not get the pulse, he would not have survived,” says Sabe. “They kept the oxygenated blood flowing, preventing irreversible damage to both heart and brain. That gave him a fighting chance once he reached our emergency department.”
Following the heart cath, Jacob Oswald was permitted to visit with his grandfather, who immediately asked him if the Blue Streaks’ varsity team had won its game.
“I couldn’t help but laugh,” says Jacob Oswald. “My grandpa had just had a massive heart attack, been out cold for over thirty minutes, was in the most pain he had ever been in and still wanted to know how varsity did.”
A strong proponent of CPR training, Dr. Sabe would like to see a significant increase in the number of people who are trained. Currently, a majority of heart attacks are witnessed by at least two people who don’t know CPR.
Milligan adds, “CPR training is not difficult, and AEDs are essential. Everyone should be prepared for this type of situation because you don’t have time to think. You’ve got to respond quickly and competently.”
Grandson Calls Wayne 'Irreplaceable'
Wayne Oswald says he is most looking forward to the warmer spring weather, and Donna Oswald, Wayne’s wife of 57 years, and their children and grandchildren are grateful he will be alive to enjoy it.
“I know we will have to leave each other someday, but I’m so glad it wasn’t that day in February,” says Donna.
The intensity of the experience inspired Jacob Oswald to write about what happened at Lake High School and afterwards. He says,
“My grandpa inspires me to be the best that I can be. He is irreplaceable for me. People worked on my grandpa, prayed with me, comforted me and cared for my family and me.
"I didn’t realize how lucky my grandpa was until the day after his surgery. If we weren’t at my basketball game, there wouldn’t have been anyone there to do CPR on my grandpa to keep his blood pumping for so long. He would’ve passed. If we weren’t at the gym where there was an AED, which unclogged part of his artery there wouldn’t have been a chance. He would’ve passed. If we wouldn’t have gone to Mercy, no other hospital in the area has the right equipment in the ER to help him right away. He would’ve passed. Without Dr. Sandhu’s great success rate we wouldn’t have been lucky. He would’ve passed. Most of all, without God continuously watching over my grandpa I wouldn’t have him in my life today. He would’ve passed. On this night, my Grandpa Wayne was literally living on a prayer.”
Photo caption: Wayne Oswald (seated) happily receives visitors following a quadruple bypass at Mercy Medical Center Heart Center. He and his wife Donna (center) are grateful for the quick thinking and CPR skills of Adam Milligan (left), Mercy athletic trainer, and Betty Fagert, Mercy radiologic technologist.