"Throughout, I was treated with the utmost respect and kindness. Everyone was fantastic." — Derek Hills
Casting a Lifeline
Rapid response saves life of House Springs resident – four times!
Derek Hills has a history of pulmonary artery disease and was diagnosed with an acute heart attack and ventricular fibrillation.
“I've been fishing ever since I can remember,” says Derek Hills as he takes a deep breath of air along the shore of Arnold City Park's fishing lake. The 49-year-old from House Springs, Mo., was out on the first cool morning of summer just two weeks after suffering a life-threatening heart attack.
“St. Anthony's ER has saved my life four times,” says Hills. “This last time, I wasn't feeling well and I asked my fiancée to call 911.” Hills, who has a history of heart problems and was already diagnosed with high cholesterol and two previous mini-strokes, doesn't remember much of the Sunday afternoon when he came to St. Anthony's by ambulance, but his fiancée — and the ER staff — recall it vividly.
“We had to shock him three times to get his heart to start beating again,” says Joni Stevenski, RN, an emergency room nurse on duty when Hills came in.
“It was scary and it was a miracle,” adds Marilyn Merkle, Hills' longtime friend and now fiancée. “Even the ambulance crew was amazed he came back. The heart specialist, Dilip Patel, MD, told us that one of Derek's arteries was 98 percent blocked.” Dr. Patel rushed Hills to the adjacent cardiac cath lab and cleared the blockage within minutes.
Hills already had four emergency cardiac stents placed into his arteries to keep blood flowing after previous trips to the hospital. That day, he received his fifth.
“They tell me I was legally dead for two minutes while in the ER,” says Hills, who spent several days recovering in the hospital. “Throughout, I was treated with the utmost respect and kindness. Everyone was fantastic.”
“I know this,” he says softly as he glances out at the lake. “I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for all the great people in the ER.”
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