On a typical day, working in his garden, Sherman Wood, of Lower Alloways Creek Township, NJ began to feel pain in his chest. He knew his wife was 45 minutes from home, at her job, and would not get there in time. He called 911.
When the medics arrived, they quickly made the decision to air lift him to Cooper University Health Care where he could get immediate treatment for what they knew was a heart attack. What would have taken over an hour by car, took 12 minutes to get him in the helicopter and flown to Cooper.
As Mr. Wood described it, “I felt like I was shot out of a gun . . . my hair was blowing back, things were moving that fast.” Mr. Wood felt that even though there was a lot of activity around him things were “moving like clockwork” in how coordinated all the activity around him seemed. Everyone knew exactly what they were supposed to do. And despite all the activity in the room, he had a calming sense of being well taken care of.
Mr. Wood describes how within about 35 minutes he was prepped, taken to the Cath Lab, and had the blockage in his heart cleared. In his own words, “It was immediate . . . it was like an elephant got off my chest. The pain was gone.” Mr. Wood describes how he felt that Cooper treated him like he was important and that he never once felt like he was going to die.
Dr. Leo Iliadis, MD, Director of the Vascular Intervention Program at the Cooper Heart Institute, performed the emergency cardiac catherterization on Mr. Wood, along with the multi-disciplinary team in the Cath Lab. By getting Mr. Wood in for emergency treatment, Dr. Iliadis was able to provide better blood flow, stop the symptoms, and prevent further complications from a heart attack.
The phrase that is often used by cardiologists is “TIME IS MUSCLE” meaning the longer you wait to get someone in for treatment the more damage that can occur to the heart muscle and the less likely are the chances for recovery. However, this requires a well-coordinated team of EMS, emergency room physicians and support staff, Cath Lab technicians, and nurses.
After his treatment at Cooper, Mr. Wood’s son, Craig, wouldn’t allow this heart attack to define his father. He did not want his children, or his nieces and nephews, to miss their time with their “Pop Pop.” He realized that potentially precious moments could have been gone.
He was determined to get his dad moving so he signed them both up for a number of runs. Craig also felt compelled to do something to give back to Cooper. He reached out on social media to friends all over and asked them to support their efforts so they could raise money for the Cooper Heart Institute.
As he says, “This hospital helped save my dad’s life and in less than a year he’s running this run.” Craig continued to spread the word about how to donate to Cooper Heart Institute. He felt that it was an important way to give back and help in any way he could.
Dr. Sajjad Sabir, MD, Co-Director-Structural Heart Program, calls Mr. Wood’s story an inspiration for Cooper. He’s an “easy” patient because he has been active and is doing all the right things to maintain a healthy lifestyle and heart.