Marcia and Kent Seeker had no idea that a 15-minute hands-only CPR course would forever alter their lives.
The American Heart Association recommends people who have little or no medical training to undergo CPR training to equip them to respond to cardiac related emergencies. A BLS certification is required to people who work in the medical field or those who are in a profession that has a high probability of cardiac emergencies.
Kent suggested they enroll in CPR training in April 2009 at a community center in Madison, Wisconsin, since he was overweight and concerned he might suffer a heart attack. He wanted Marcia to be ready.
Little did he realize that in a few weeks, it would determine life or death.
The Seekers had gone to bed after a typical day when Kent awoke to Marcia making odd noises. He pushed her because he thought she was snoring. But he realized something was wrong when she remained silent. So he immediately dialed 911.
The 911 operator immediately identified it as a heart attack and gave Kent the order to perform Hands-Only CPR, which entails rapid, forceful chest compressions without mouth-to-mouth rescue breaths.
Kent kept doing compressions for ten minutes before the paramedics showed up. Marcia's heart received three shocks from the paramedics, and she soon resumed breathing. Still, it wasn't over.
Marcia had a stent implanted in her heart through her femoral artery as soon as she got to the hospital. Kent waited three hours anxiously, anticipating the worst. Kent breathed a sigh of relief as the doctor entered the waiting area and started speaking about Marcia in the present tense.
Marcia had endured the Widow Maker, a heart attack that just a few people make it through. The main artery in the front of the heart, the left anterior descending artery, is blocked, which causes it.
Marcia would not be alive today if Kent's quick actions hadn't been taken.
Marcia was hospitalized for a week before returning to work two weeks later. Her chest troubles began a few months later. She was given blood thinners after being diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism, in which a blood clot passed from her leg to her lungs.
The pair decided to take control of their health after Marcia suffered a heart attack. They started working out and eating better, and they lost a total of 120 pounds.
Nine years later, they still pursue a healthy lifestyle and support the American Heart Association and Hands-Only CPR.
In order to have an even greater impact this year, Kent and Marcia made the decision to go beyond their initial pledge and include the association in their will.
Kent stated, "I'd like to see all 50 states supporting the public to attend CPR training in all schools. That is equally significant to the three 'R's. The association should keep up its anti-smoking advocacy, in my opinion."
Heart disease runs in Marcia's family, and Kent's mother battled cancer. On her deathbed in 2001, she pleaded with Kent to give off smoking. He promised to give up after six months. He maintained his word on Mother's Day, six months to the day, and hasn't smoked since.