Young dad has second chance at life thanks to friend
MAYWOOD, Ill. (Feb. 26, 2015) – Just before the holidays, Kirke Cushing, 43, made his weekly visit to the local ice hockey rink to play a game with a group of friends. Mr. Cushing’s son Jackson looked on from the stands.
During the game, Mr. Cushing began feeling pain in his left arm. He shrugged it off and continued skating. With six minutes left in the third period, he began feeling dizzy and collapsed on the ice.
"I turned around and saw Kirke lying down on the ice. I skated over to him and found him unconscious," said Andy Soltys, RN, Mr. Cushing’s friend and teammate.
Soltys, who also happens to be an emergency department nurse at Loyola University Medical Center, jumped into action and immediately began CPR. Mr. Cushing's son called 911 and his mom Meg who ran over to the rink with the couple’s daughter. Others brought an automated external defibrillator (AED) to assist until the paramedics arrived. The ambulance reached the rink minutes later and rushed Mr. Cushing to the closest hospital.
Mr. Cushing remembers waking up two days later.
"When I came to, I was restrained and unable to speak from the tube down my throat," Mr. Cushing said. "I didn’t know where I was or what had happened. It was terrifying."
Doctors determined that he had suffered a heart attack on the ice. They performed two angiograms to remove blockages and inserted four stents to open up his clogged arteries. He returned home less than a week later and began cardiac rehab while receiving follow-up care from Amir Darki, MD, a Loyola cardiologist.
Less than two months later, Mr. Cushing is 25 pounds lighter and living a much healthier lifestyle.
"Before my heart attack, I hadn’t been to the doctor in three years," he said. "Today, my family and I eat a lot more fruits and vegetables and take better care of ourselves. I feel much better, and I have a second chance at life that I don’t want to waste."
Doctors told Mr. Cushing that he has Andy and his paramedics to thank for saving his life and preventing any long-term impairments.
"They said had CPR not been administered well and right away, I might not be here today," Mr. Cushing said. "I was fortunate to be playing hockey with a friend who also happens to be an emergency department nurse."
Mr. Cushing received clearance to return to the ice and recently began playing hockey again. He plans to return to his team soon.