Canton, Ohio: Wayne Oswald went home last Friday after undergoing quadruple bypass surgery recently at Mercy Heart Center. However, without the quick thinking and CPR skills of two Mercy Medical Center employees and other bystanders, together with the hospital’s emergency chest pain center and cath lab, the 81-year-old Oswald would have died following a major heart attack at Lake High School on February 19.
Oswald’s daughter-in-law Schar Oswald watched him fall suddenly at the end of a Blue Streaks’ junior varsity basketball win. His grandson Jacob Oswald, a Lake Local Schools sophomore, had played in the game.
She says, “It was like time was frozen. His skin turned completely red and then blue. In that instant, I saw life leave him.”
CPR Team Never Quits
Betty Fagert, a Mercy lab technician, witnessed the scene from the stands and responded. Adam Milligan, Mercy’s certified athletic trainer with Lake Local, also went to Wayne Oswald’s side. Joined by Summit County police officer Miguel Hunt and nurse Stacy Remark, Milligan rapidly organized the life-saving CPR effort, administering breaths while Fagert delivered chest compressions. With assistance from Remark, Milligan also used the school’s automated external defibrillator (AED).
Even though frequent checks revealed no pulse, the team, according to witnesses, continued CPR efforts for nearly ten minutes until the ambulance arrived.
Milligan, who had never needed to test his CPR skills prior to this, says Wayne Oswald was clearly deceased. After several minutes of CPR, the AED eventually detected a weak pulse, and Milligan gave him two shocks. He credits the miraculous turn of events to God, the strength of a community coming together in a crisis, and the team – both at the high school and at the medical center – that cared for Wayne Oswald.
“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.
CPR, Immediate Heart Cath Revive Oswald, Enable Surgery
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 persistence 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 to get to our emergency department in time.”
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 public 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 Says Oswald Is 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.”
About Mercy Medical Center
Mercy Medical Center, a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System, operates a 476-bed hospital serving Stark, Carroll, Wayne, Holmes and Tuscarawas Counties and parts of Southeastern Ohio. It has 620 members on its Medical Staff and employs 2,500 people. Mercy operates outpatient health centers in Carroll County, Jackson Township, Lake Township, Louisville, North Canton, Plain Township and Tuscarawas County. A Catholic hospital, Mercy Medical Center upholds the mission and philosophy of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine and continues to be responsive to the needs of the community. For more information, see cantonmercy.org.