Grandmother's amazing tale of survival

Source: The Courier

Kaye O'Connor clinically died 14 times but is still alive to tell her amazing tale.

The grandmother suffered a heart attack last September but was saved by her quick-thinking husband, MICA paramedics and a new cardiac treatment option available at Ballarat Health Services Base Hospital only two weeks earlier.

Mrs O'Connor was out for breakfast with her husband David on September 27 when she started to feel off colour.

"I'd been feeling off for a while. I was terribly short of breath but I just thought it was old age," Mrs O'Connor said.

The pair then travelled to Ascot to buy straw bales when her condition worsened.

"I said to David 'look, just take me home'.

"I just went straight onto David's side of the bed. I didn't care. I just laid there."

Five minutes later, the pain in her chest was so bad she told Mr O'Connor to ring 000.

"For the first time ever, he didn't argue."

MICA paramedics arrived 12 minutes later and took two ECGs, which were immediately relayed back to the hospital's cardiovascular unit.

An ambulance bed was set up for Mrs O'Connor but she had a "funny feeling" about it and didn't want to lie down.

She was suffering excruciating chest pain, vomiting and some tingling down her arms.

Three minutes later, she had a heart attack.

For the next 45 minutes, she was brought back to life by the defibrillator 14 times.

Meanwhile, hospital cardiac catheter lab staff were preparing for her arrival.

Cardiologist Associate Professor Ernesto Oqueli said from the time Mrs O'Connor arrived at the hospital door, it took only 25 minutes to unblock her artery, compared to a standard time of 90 minutes.

An angioplasty was performed in the lab to insert a stent, one of the first times the procedure had been performed.

"And luckily we still have her here today," Associate Professor Oqueli said.

"When things like this happen, it is extremely rewarding."

Emergency stent work only began in lab on September 11 after it opened in November 2011.

All Mrs O'Connor remembers is trying to push Associate Professor Oqueli away when he was putting the catheter in.

"The next thing I was out to it again. I woke up three days later to see my husband and daughter watching over me.

"There was nothing on the other side. I'm not frightened of dying anymore but it's great coming back, opening your eyes and seeing your family there."

Mrs O'Connor was put in intensive care in an induced coma before being released after six days.

She has been back in hospital twice for heart related matters and is currently doing cardiac rehabilitation, looking at diet, exercise and psychology issues.

"It's just what you need, being with people who have gone through what you've been through.

"I'm still here. The quality of my life is up to me."

BHS cardiac clinical facilitator Sally Kruger said it was important during Heart Week to know the signs of a heart attack.

"David did the right thing by ringing 000 to give Kaye the best chance of survival," Ms Kruger said.

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