One evening while watching television with his wife, Betty, Dan Oliker took a strange, deep breath and fell limp. His heart had stopped; he was in cardiac arrest.
Betty jumped up, called 911 and ran to get a neighbor to help administer CPR. Dan was taken by ambulance to a local hospital after paramedics worked to shock him back to life. He barely had a heartbeat when doctors told Betty, “It’s in higher hands.”
But Betty knew better. She knew she had to get him to Cooper if he had any chance at all and pushed for the transfer. When Dan arrived at Cooper he was immediately taken to the cardiac catheterization lab where Janah Aji, MD, Head of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at Cooper, and his team immediately administered therapeutic hypothermia (a cooling technique) and inserted a stent into the blocked vessel in his heart.
Dan remained in critical condition following the catheterization. His heart was working again, but he had been without a heartbeat and oxygen to the brain during the cardiac arrest. His family wondered if he would wake up and, if he did, would he be the same husband, father and grandfather?
Doctors began to warm Dan and begin the process of taking him off the ventilator after about a week in the Coronary Care Unit at Cooper University Hospital.
“His first words to me were, ‘I gotta get out of this bed,’” said Betty. “I knew at that moment we were going to be okay.”
Within a couple weeks, Dan was home resting and regaining his strength.
“It’s about getting quickly to the right place, with the right doctors and the best technology,” explains Perry J. Weinstock, MD, Head of the Division of Cardiology and Director of the Cooper Heart Institute, and Dan’s primary cardiologist. “Betty pushed to have him transferred to Cooper, and that saved his life. Our hypothermia procedure kept Dan’s mind undamaged.”
“I’ve always been an active person, golfing, exercising and enjoying the outdoors,” said Dan. “I knew I needed to get right back out there so I started walking around my neighborhood every chance I could.”
Dan has since made a remarkable recovery. He is back out golfing several days a week and traveling with his wife to see their family as often as they can.