“I proved that anyone can fall over dead,” Henry Wardrop said with a laugh. “This shouldn’t be about me. It should be about the people that took care of me — they are the reason I’m alive!”
Those people included an off-duty nurse, gym patrons, gym staff, paramedics, and the teams at UPMC Hanover and UPMC Pinnacle Harrisburg.
Henry didn’t know he was going to meet them when he left home on June 28 to go to the UPMC Fitness Center for a workout.
“It was a typical day,” Henry said. “I finished my exercise routine on one of the machines, and I just fell over. I don’t remember anything after that.”
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Henry’s heart had stopped — sudden cardiac arrest. According to the American Heart Association, out-of–hospital cardiac arrest like Henry’s strikes more than 356,000 people in the United States each year, and nearly 90% of them are fatal. Fortunately, for people like Henry, when bystanders jump to action with CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and AED (automated external defibrillator) equipment, the likelihood of survival dramatically increases.
When Henry collapsed, a nurse who happened to be there started giving him chest compressions. A fellow gym patron gave him rescue breathing, and the gym staff grabbed the AED.
“One of the people said I was a beautiful shade of blue,” said Henry.
Within 10 minutes the paramedics were rushing him to UPMC Hanover. “The team at UPMC Hanover quickly opened the blockage in his heart and restored blood flow,” said J. Andre Garabedian, DO, UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute in Hanover. “However, we could tell that he had other blockages and would need bypass surgery.”
Dr. Garabedian reached out to A. Reza Abrishamchian, MD, cardiovascular surgeon, UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute at UPMC Pinnacle Harrisburg for his expertise. “The cardiovascular surgeons at UPMC Pinnacle Harrisburg are among the best in the area,” said Dr. Garabedian.
Henry was still unconscious, so the decision was up to his wife, Jane. “I had a choice of which hospital,” she said. “But having seen the good care UPMC Hanover provided him, it made sense to continue that quality of care at UPMC Pinnacle Harrisburg.”
After stabilizing his condition, Henry was transported to UPMC Pinnacle Harrisburg.
“The bypass surgery involved taking veins from his legs and using them to reroute the way the blood gets to the heart,” explained Dr. Abrishamchian.
The operation went smoothly. “He did really well and went home in a few days,” Dr. Abrishamchian noted.
“I remember waking up in Harrisburg,” Henry said. “The staff there were great, great folks. Just terrific. Dr. Abrishamchian did a terrific job.”
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The UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute has long been a leader in cardiovascular care, with a rich history in clinical research and innovation. As one of the first heart transplant centers in the country and as the developer of one of the first heart-assist devices, UPMC has contributed to advancing the field of cardiovascular medicine.