His heart stopped seven times, but he’s alive today

His heart stopped seven times, but he’s alive today

Carl Lohuis was shoveling snow on a cold January day when he started to feel a burning in his chest. He walked inside the house and told his wife, Paula, that he wasn’t feeling. Paula told him to call the doctor. Minutes later, they were on their way to the emergency department at Aurora Sheboygan Memorial Medical Center.

Carl was brought back to a room where nurse Maria Wernke hooked him up to a EKG machine. Wernke was suspicious it was a heart attack. Within just a few moments, the EKG confirmed what she thought. Then, his heart stopped beating. Wernke called for help, and the team at Aurora Sheboygan rushed into action, including paramedic Melissa Serna. Serna started CPR right away.

Carl’s heart stopped seven times. The team at Aurora Sheboygan resuscitated him each time. After the seventh time, Lohuis stabilized. He wasn’t out of the woods, though, so Wernke and the team loaded him into an ambulance and rushed him 38 miles to Aurora Medical Center in Grafton.

Dr. Christopher Marowski was the on-call cardiologist at Aurora Grafton. By the time Lohuis arrived, Dr. Marowski and the team were ready for an emergency catheterization to remove the blockage in his heart.  Less than 95 minutes after the first EKG that confirmed Lohuis was having a heart attack, Dr. Marowski and his team had cleared his left anterior descending artery—helping save Lohuis’s life and his heart muscle.

“I was thinking about not being able to hug my wife and kids again. You don’t wake up in the morning thinking I’m going to have a heart attack and die today,” said Lohuis. “I hope that I can help other people take their health seriously and take better care of themselves.”

Lohuis is in physical therapy and grateful to be there for his wife and six children. He’s thankful for the teams at both hospitals that saved his life.

“For patients like Carl, we have to do this with speed and quality. Speed and quality helped save all of his heart muscle,” said Dr. Marowski. “If you ever experience chest pain with physical activity like Carl did, call your doctor. We see way too many people who delay.”

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About the Author

Ben Hoekstra
Ben Hoekstra

Ben Hoekstra is a public affairs coordinator with Advocate Aurora Health. He previously worked in marketing and PR for various Milwaukee nonprofits and received his master’s degree in Corporate Communications from Marquette University. He enjoys the outdoors, cooking, and all things Milwaukee.