As a marathon runner and triathlete, Stan Edwards (pictured above, middle) values physical fitness. It’s why he didn’t think twice when he mounted his bike in August of 2020.
Stan had just gone over a hill and stopped at an intersection when he began suffering a major heart attack. The type of cardiac arrest Stan experienced that day is commonly referred to as a widow-maker because of how often it proves fatal.
“I was dead on the side of the road for 33 minutes,” Stan recalls.
Stan was fortunate that four bystanders came to his aid, called 911 and performed CPR for 11 minutes until EMS arrived. EMS personnel found him without a heartbeat. However, after 22 additional minutes of CPR, his heart restarted.
Stan was rushed to Bon Secours – St. Mary’s Hospital, where his care team discovered that his artery was more than 99 percent blocked and required a stent to clear. He underwent therapeutic hypothermia, sometimes referred to as a code ice procedure because of the cold water pumped around a patient’s body while chilled intravenous saline solution is administered into the veins. Stan also overcame two pneumonias, third-degree burns to his legs, received three blood transfusions and was placed in a medically induced coma for 19 days.
“I was one day away from needing to be put on life support,” Stan says about his many complications. “The bottom line, had it not been for the staff of St. Mary’s, I would not be alive today.”
After a week of rehabilitation, Stan finally returned home after 40 days. At first, he was 33 pounds lighter and had to use a walker due to weakness. Now, he’s back on his bike, running marathons and training for triathlons.
Stan wanted to say thank you to the individuals he credits with saving his life. And last week, he had that chance.
Stan returned to St. Mary’s Hospital during National Nurses Week and Hospital Week, appropriate occasions to thank his health care team. During his presentation to our St. Mary’s team members, he told them of his journey of how he went from near death to, 15 months later, completing his 26th marathon. Stan had nominated St. Mary’s cardiac care unit (CCU) for the prestigious Daisy Award and was able to present the award to staff during his visit.
“I was at St. Mary’s for 33 days but, to be honest, I have no real memory of anything until about a week before we left to go to rehab,” Stan shared in his nomination letter. “But it is in the stories my wife and sons tell of the ordeal … of not knowing for 19 days whether I would live or die. And through it all, day in and day out, the CCU team who took care of me also took care of my family.”
In addition to sharing his story with hospital team members, Stan also led fitness classes which demonstrated techniques that played a critical role in helping him manage stress and ongoing PTSD symptoms. It was Stan’s way of giving back to Bon Secours, as he shared helpful tips hospital employees could incorporate into their routines to improve mental, physical and emotional health.
Stan also wanted to give a shout out to those who provided comfort to his wife, Tammy, and sons, Zac and Logan, both at the hospital and at the Evelyn D. Reinhart Guest House. Overall, the chance to say thank you in person was special to Stan, especially since he had little memory of his actual time in the hospital.
“How blessed we feel for God putting these amazing people in our journey to help us fight through it all,” Stan says.