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Heart Attack No Match for Prayer

July 16th, 2016 was like most Saturdays for Bruce. He was at a men’s prayer breakfast at church, and had just taken his seat.

Doug remembered that morning, “I’m sitting directly across from Bruce. I looked over and I see Bruce and he just rolled back and his eyes roll back in his head and his left arm goes over that chair and he hits the floor.”

The men started CPR and called 9-1-1. EMTs arrived within minutes and confirmed Bruce was having a massive heart attack. EMT Jordan Shaffer recalled the scene, “We started giving the proper medications that we needed to give. We defibulated several times throughout the run and nothing seemed to be working.”

Doug said, “For all purposes he was gone. We hadn’t seen him breathing, nobody said anything about a heart beat and so we began to pray.”

EMT Jarret Heaston said, “After 20 minutes when he was still in vfib, it was time to make some other decisions.”

Out of options, they called the ER and reached Dr. Ryan Bence. As a last ditch effort, he told them to try a radical, seldom used technique.

Dr. Bence explained the procedure, “I had them hook up two defibulators to the patient and simultaneously shock using the two defibulators and they were able to get a pulse back.”  

As Bruce was being rushed to the ER, his wife Dee had been contacted and was on her way to the hospital with a friend from church.  The only thing they told her was that Bruce had “passed out”. “I had a fear of the unknown.” Dee recalled, “I didn't know what the ‘pass out’ meant. Your mind can go in many different directions.  I just wanted to get to the hospital.”

Meanwhile, the ambulance had gotten to the hospital, but his heart had stopped again.

Dr. Bence said, “When they arrived they were actively doing CPR. The patient was blue, blue as the color of my scrubs; that certainly was a poor prognosis.”  Even if Bruce did survive, he could have severe brain damage.  But that didn’t stop Dr. Bence and his team from making every effort to save his life. Dr. Bence continued, “6, 7 minutes without oxygen to the brain and you begin to exhibit some neurologic injury to the brain and he had had we think well over 47 minutes.   We typically have about a 0.8 chance of even getting a pulse back after 30 minutes. Still just an incredibly poor prognosis.”

When Dee arrived, she was escorted to the room where the medical team was working to save her husband. “That was hard. He’s got uh apparatuses in his mouth and he's obviously not the right color, you know, it was hard.” Dee recalled, “God has to make this right. That's what I thought, "God has to make this right." I didn't – where else do you turn, you know, but to God?”  

Dee wasn’t the only one crying out to God.  The men from church and other friends came to pray.  Jack Herring remembered, “We didn’t understand exactly why this was taking place, didn’t need to understand that; but basically we were asking for God to intervene.”

Then finally, doctors got a steady pulse. Dr. Bence said, “His color pinked up and started making some purposeful movements which still I can’t fully explain how that recovery occurred so rapidly. It was quite impressive to see.”  

Dee remembered, “Dr. Bentz said to me, ‘I think we've seen a miracle here today’” Doctor’s found that the circumflex artery was 100% blocked.  They inserted a stent to restore blood flow, but they still had concerns. Dee said, “He was considered clinically dead. Total, an hour and seven minutes with no pulse. Because Bruce had been without oxygen for that length of time, it could have been total brain damage. And so there was still a fear but I had a peace that I can’t explain. And I look back at it now and I think that’s only because of prayer.”

Bruce improved dramatically over the next few days. Dee remembered, “The doctors were astounded because he had started to breathe on his own. And when the respiratory therapist took the vent tube out he said, ‘Hello’. And you know we just looked at each other and he just looked at us. Bruce just stared at us and I truly believe God was saying to us, through Bruce, ‘I’m here. I’m working in this situation.’ And it gave us that peace.”

In less than a week, Bruce was cleared to go home. Bruce said, “It is just an absolute miracle that I was able to walk out of that hospital six days later. I’m only here because of prayer.”

Today Bruce is healthy and shows no sign of brain damage. He loves spending time with his family and sharing his miracle with others. Bruce continued, “I believe I’m here to share the story of hope and encouragement to those who don’t have some hope and encouragement. And to believe in prayer, the power of prayer.”

Dee believes, “I know that God was a miracle-working God because that’s his promise that ‘I will never leave you or I never will forsake you.’ and I thank God that day that he didn’t. So I’m thankful, I’m grateful, and I know God has done this to give other people hope. And I hope it does.”

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