Darrell and Shirley Parker were visiting Alberta from Saskatchewan, hiking with family in the Rocky Mountains, enjoying the fresh air and sunshine.
“We are an outdoors kind of family and Shirley loves hiking,” Darrell said.
They were descending from their Grassi Lakes hike, just outside Canmore, on June 20 when Darrell said he suffered a heart attack and his heart stopped.
A Calgary cardiologist, who happened to be hiking there with his family, immediately sprang into action, getting help from several bystanders.
“We had to secure the airway, intravenous access, continue the CPR, make sure that you knew [he] still had a pulse because he had no pulse for a while,” cardiologist Dr. Corey Adams said.
“For his kids and his grandkids, they were all there watching. It was very emotional for them at the time.”
Adam said they defibrillated him several times to get his heart to start again.
“It was scary, but then once I heard that there was a cardiologist there, we definitely had somebody in our corner that day,” Shirley said.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Darrell said. “It’s almost like it was a type of divine intervention, Dr. Adams being there so quickly.”
Paramedics took Darrell to the Canmore General Hospital, where he was stabilized, and then he was transferred to the cardiac unit at Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary.
Adams recently joined the surgical staff at the Cumming School of Medicine’s Libin Cardiovascular Institute at Foothills, where he was making his rounds a couple of days after Darrell’s heart attack.
“[Darrell’s] wife and son recognized me and they asked if I would do his heart surgery and it just kind of completed the whole circle,” Adams said. “I did a coronary bypass times five, so Darrell has five new arteries that supply all the blood flow to his heart, and he did remarkably well.”
“You start thinking about the odds of surviving,” Darrell said. “Where [the heart attack happened] was the perfect place in the world with the perfect people in the world. They came together, and a life was saved.”
After the heart surgery on June 29, Darrell recovered at Foothills until being discharged on July 5, when he returned to his home in Paradise Hill, Sask.
“Darrell being 60, I would anticipate Darrell to be back to work in three months, back being active, a full recovery,” Adams said.
Darrell said he is looking forward to getting back in shape.
“We’re going to go do that hike again, I’m thinking next year, and maybe we’ll do an anniversary hike and see if Dr. Adams wants to go,” he said.
“I think I would do it again,” Adams said. “I think I would go for [that] hike again.”
“They kind of have a bond,” Shirley said with a laugh.
“It couldn’t have turned out any better, and just a message for everybody: I’ve taken CPR all my life. I haven’t had to use it,” Darrell said. “But one day if I have to, I certainly will take that step and try to save somebody else’s life. It certainly saved my life.”
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