Prompt CPR and ER care sustain and rescue critical heart patient

Richard Obregon, heart disease, Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center

Everything changed when Richard Obregon and his family found out he had a heart condition. Diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), Richard’s heart had an electrical malfunction that caused it to sometimes beat rapidly.

One day, Richard was working at a construction site in a new housing community in Jupiter, Florida, when his heart started to overwhelm him. It sped up to an alarming rate until he went into cardiac arrest, and then it completely stopped.

Richard immediately started receiving CPR from his friend. Then, paramedics who worked as security guards in the neighborhood, shocked his heart, and it started beating again. Richard received another shock when he and the paramedics were in the ambulance on the way to Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center. For a brief time, Richard was clinically dead.

The longest drive of her life

Ary Herera was in Miami with her children when she found out that her husband, Richard, had a heart attack. They rushed to the hospital to be by his side as fast as possible.

"The hour and a half drive to the hospital felt like the longest drive of my life. I had no idea what kind of condition he’d be in when I got there. I kept thinking about our kids and how they would react if I had to tell them their father wasn't coming home," recalls Ary.

According to Dr. Scott McFarland, the attending ER physician, Richard was barely alive on arrival.

"His heart was beating 286 times per minute, too fast to pump blood effectively to his brain," Dr. McFarland says. "We had to shock Richard's heart for a third time, then sedate and intubate him before we were able to get a pulse-producing rhythm back."

Richard's heart was too weak to stabilize him in his present condition. So cardiologist Dr. Jyoti B. Mohanty had to put in a pacemaker and defibrillator right away.

"We all waited excruciatingly for Richard to wake up," Ary says. "We had no idea what to expect and what the extent of his brain damage was. Would he be able to talk? Would he remember us?"

The surgery was successful. Richard was able to go home just days later. He was ecstatic to be alive, yet guarded about the future. He knew the rest of his recovery would be a challenge.

The ordeal caused some damage; Richard had experienced some memory loss. However, he's grateful he still gets to experience what’s most important in his life—his two children.

"No words can explain how thankful we are to everyone who saved his life, including his friend who knew CPR, the EMTs and the entire staff who cared for him at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center," says Ary .

Richard and his family are from Cuba and currently live in Hialeah, Florida. Richard feels it was a stroke of good fortune to end up at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center’s Heart & Vascular Institute, and that so many people knew CPR and were able to keep him alive until he made it to the hospital.

Most of all, he says, "Being at PBGMC was the best thing that could have happened to me."