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Brad Wellendorf’s cardiac arrest could have turned worst if not for CPR

How CPR saved Brad Wellendorf’s life
How CPR saved Brad Wellendorf’s life

The story is about a South Dakotan family by Brad and Kristi Wellendorf. We commend them for having the courage to share their experience in hopes that it will inspire others to learn CPR. It kept Brad alive. The American Heart Association recommends everyone to attend CPR training.

On a Wednesday evening, they attended their son's baseball game in 8th grade - Brad was required to assist with field preparation but found raking to be challenging. He was extremely thirsty and could not catch his breath.

It was unfortunate that he kept this information to himself and that he had felt this way before.

Brad woke Kristi up in the middle of the night when he got up to use the restroom. The subsequent noise she heard was Brad gasping and choking.

He had his hands crossed in front of his chest, his thumbs intertwined, his eyes fixed, and he was making that terrible noise when she turned on the lights.

Their 12-year-old daughter entered the room first before going outside to get the phone and call 911. Brad went limp after giving the dispatcher their name, address, and situation. For the remaining time, Kristi gave Lindsey the phone. She placed him on the ground and began to perform CPR.

Although the dispatcher on the phone was giving her instructions, her CPR training from thirty years earlier kicked in and she instantly knew where to put her hands and how to apply compressions.

Kristi felt like I was hyperventilating, so she and Lindsey had to count aloud. To keep moving quickly enough, she mentally sang the song "Staying Alive."

It took the ambulance 14 minutes to get to Brad's side from the moment it was called in. According to Kristi, it seemed to last longer than 30 minutes. According to the report, they tried three times to intubate him and had to shock him twice. It had been 26 minutes at this point. 33 minutes after the ambulance was called, he finally obtained measurements for his blood pressure, oxygen level, pulse, and was taken to the hospital.

The children stayed with a family friend who came over as soon as she called, while Kristi was transported by a police officer to the hospital.

Brad was brought to the catheterization lab, where a stent was inserted to open his totally closed LAD. Everything was finished 90 minutes after dispatch. In the emergency room, he was also put on the hypothermia protocol and kept cool for almost 24 hours.

When Kristi next visited Brad in the ICU, he was hooked up to a ventilator, the cooling unit, a heart balloon pump, blood circulating cuffs on his legs, and four trees full of drugs. A femoral artery tear needed to be fixed in surgery a few hours later.

Every doctor and nurse who heard about Kristi and her son performing CPR on Brad congratulated us for helping them help Brad since, without it, they would not have had him as a patient.

In the ICU, Brad continued to be in a coma. Nearly all of his brain was experiencing seizures. The subject of end-of-life decisions and organ and tissue donation was brought up because it appeared unlikely that he would awaken from his coma.

He moved his leg 11 days after the cardiac arrest. Then he began speaking 16 days after the arrest. He had no idea who we were; all he knew was that we were significant to him. It took a few more days before he addressed Kristi by her name, said their son's full name, or even realized who their daughter was.

He felt no pain at all over this period of time before entering this rehab hospital. He was unable to feel when his blood was drawn, when his feet were being examined or tested, or even when his hand was caught between the bed rail and the table. His brain still hadn't established a new pathway in this area.

His recovery really picked up after what he called his "superman nap" on his second day in rehab, the 23rd day after his cardiac arrest. He claimed to be able to "see" the synopsis and reconnect neurons.

This is the same man who needed assistance or spoke very slowly in order to say the months of the year or the days of the week or to remember what number he was on long enough to continue counting. He was able to relearn how to walk, and his balance got better so he could stand on his own.

Thirteen days in rehab and 35 days after the cardiac arrest later, he was able to return home because of therapy-induced improvements in his brain function. After many months of outpatient counseling, he returned to work on a very limited basis two years later.

The Wellendorf family started by saying, "We were so lucky to be at home with Brad when his attack occurred and witness a genuine miracle."

We offer Heartsaver CPR AED courses in the following locations

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