'He Was Not Dying And That Was That': Woman Saves Husband's Life With CPR

February 27, 2018

A determined woman saved her husband's life by performing CPR on him non-stop for 30 minutes until the ambulance arrived.

woman saves husband cpr 30 minutes
Geraldine and Derek / Credit: Independent.ie

Geraldine O'Reilly Bolger, a nurse in Dublin, saved her husband Derek's life by performing CPR on him after he suffered cardiac arrest in bed. Now she is calling for everyone to learn the technique, including children.

Geraldine says she was asleep next to her husband when she noticed some unusual breathing by him in the middle of the night.

Geraldine shared her story with the Irish news website, Independent:

"I gave Derek a dig in the ribs and asked 'Derek are you OK?' I got no response, so I gave him a bigger dig and shouted 'Derek are you OK?' Still no response, so I sat up and turned on my bedside lamp, glanced at Derek, lifted my mobile and dialed 999. I said I need a cardiac ambulance please, my husband is having a cardiac arrest and gave them our address.

When I had glanced at Derek, he was a purple black color with dilated black pupils staring up and to the left. The medic on the phone asked me 'is he on a hard surface?'.

I said 'no he is in the bed'. He said get him on the floor. At this stage I had walked around to Derek's side of the bed. I felt for Derek's pulse and he had a good pulse. So I got him by the ankles and yanked him onto the floor. His body hit the floor with a loud thud. He later developed a large bruise down the left side. His head bounced twice off the floor, I forgot to put a pillow down first. Derek remained unconscious with foaming at the side of the mouth. I said I'm starting CPR.

On my first thrust of compression I heard a crunch. I knew I'd broken cartilage, but I thought that's good I'm in the right place and doing it hard enough."

Geraldine says that the sheer force of her CPR technique probably helped Derek to survive as he was under for so long.

"It made sure that oxygen still made it to the brain. He was not dying and that was that," she said.

When the ambulance arrived, they took over the job of trying to save Derek's life.

After 20 minutes, a doctor approached Geraldine who was waiting downstairs. "He told me they had shocked Derek nine times, given him adrenaline and other drugs and that they had 'done everything'. It dawned on me then that they were stopping. So I pointed up the stairs and said 'well get back up there and keep going, keep going, keep going.' The doctor resumed work and about 15 minutes later he returned to say he has an output."

Derek was sedated and taken to the hospital. Two days later, he woke up and was taken off life support.

"I said: 'Derek you look fantastic.' He smiled at me and asked 'am I dead?' I said 'no you are not'. Then he looked around his arm for his watch and asked me 'am I late for work?' I said 'no Derek you have today off. He said 'I don't know what happened to me'. I said 'you were a bit sick last night, so I brought you into the hospital and you are absolutely fantastic now."

"'I don't remember anything' he said. I said 'well I remember everything'."

After a week in the Cardiac Care Unit Derek returned home and is now completely fine, Independent reported.

Experts in the field have told Geraldine that anyone who is under for more than 20 minutes usually has some serious issues caused by lack of oxygen to the brain. Derek was under for around an hour so Geraldine's CPR technique was vital to both his survival and full recovery.

Geraldine now believes more than ever that CPR at home is vital to save lives.

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