William Schafer

Age: 67
Save Date: 11/2/1999
Activity: In airport

On November 2, 1999, at about 4:20 p.m. in Chicago O'Hare Airport, my wife, Ruth, and I were going from a United flight from St. Louis to Gate B18 to board a flight to Rome, Italy. We were using the moving sidewalk when I had a sudden cardiac arrest. Ruth stepped off the moving belt and I was thrown forward at the belt ending, technically dead.

Almost immediately, a United flight attendant, Roger Russ, with 14 years experience, initiated CPR. He was assisted by a young lady, Stacey Storjohann, who administered mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and by a cardiologist, Dr. Timothy O'Conner, who was on his way to a vacation in Australia.

The doctor called for a defibrillator and administered electric shock to restart my heart. I later learned the AED had been on the B Concourse for only a few days. The convergence of these three professionally qualified people saved my life.

From O'Hare, I was transported to Resurrection Hospital by ambulance and was admitted to Intensive Care. It turned out that Dr. O'Conner was on the cardiology staff at Resurrection Hospital and the staff was not about to lose me after the doctor had gotten me restarted.

On November 6, an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) was implanted and I was released on November 8, 1999. We returned to St. Louis for recuperation. After about six months, I was able to resume driving, had worked myself up to a full exercise program, and was back to normal.

I have had two episodes which activated the ICD and it performed its job. I'm like a Timex--I keep on ticking!

My experience may be unique due to the level of expertise that all my "angels" had. The flight attendant taught CPR, the young lady also had a CPR card, and the cardiologist was on hand to use the defibrillator which was brand new on the scene.

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