On October 24, 2002, I was in the boarding area of United Airlines waiting for a flight to visit two of my sons and my two grandchildren who live in Southern California, when I collapsed.
I had no symptoms of any problem with my heart prior to this occurrence, and regained consciousness as fire department medics were placing me on a stretcher to take me to Resurrection Hospital in Chicago.
I was later informed by Lourdes Rodriguez, training coordinator for Chicago Airport System AED Department, that only a few minutes had elapsed before a defibrillator was applied to my chest to restart my heart.
Teresa Machiejewski, an employee of United Airlines and Faith Ciacci, a nurse who had just deplaned on a flight from Philadelphia, handled my resuscitation. The AED Department headed by Sherry Cafferty was established in 1999 at O'Hare Airport. Sherry informed me that this airport was the first facility ever to install defibrillators for use by the public, and that because of strategic placement throughout the airport; they enjoy a 70 percent survival rate of people who experience sudden cardiac arrest.
The doctors at Resurrection determined that I needed single bypass surgery which was performed October 28, 2002. I was discharged on November 3, 2002.
I am currently taking four types of medicine, one pill each, every day. I am now enrolled in Phase Three of the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program offered at Resurrection Hospital which is an ongoing support program of aerobic exercises.
Phase Two, which I completed April 11, 2003, was a twelve week session of one hour aerobics classes, three times per week. My heart rate and blood pressure were closely monitored by trained registered nurses. A stress test was required before admission to Phase Two.
Phase one consisted of in-hospital, limited exercise in which heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen saturation were closely monitored. In summary, the quick application of a defibrillator along with hospital care and medication helped me reach my 75th birthday, August 9 of this year.