‘I Beat the Odds’: Couple Credits Mayo’s ‘Angels’ After Husband’s Cardiac Arrest
In June 2017, Loral and Jane Blinde set out for their annual visit to Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. Like every year for more than a decade, they traveled from their Orlando home the night before.
The Blindes went to an early dinner, then headed back to the hotel across the street from the Mayo campus to prepare for their routine physicals the next morning.
Loral, a patient in Mayo’s Executive Health program for many years, was getting ready for bed when Jane noticed a strange expression on his face. She asked him what happened, wondering if he had stubbed his toe. Loral didn’t respond. She asked again. No response.
Then Loral collapsed, his body wedged between the bed and the wall. Jane dialed 911. Dispatchers instructed her to begin chest compressions immediately.
“I couldn’t move him," Jane recalls. "So, I threw open the door and screamed at the top of my lungs for help."
Sudden Cardiac Arrest
Other hotel guests rushed to help. They were the first of many “angels” who Jane says went out of their way to help the Blindes over the next 10 days. Guests performed chest compressions in the minutes it took for the medics to arrive. The medics administered multiple defibrillator charges and rushed Loral across the street to Mayo Clinic’s emergency department.
Loral had experienced sudden cardiac arrest. The event results from an abrupt loss of heart function, which leads to a loss of breathing and consciousness. This condition usually results from a problem with the heart’s electrical system. The American Heart Association reports only about 10% of people globally who go into cardiac arrest outside of a hospital survive.
A neurologist in the Mayo Clinic emergency room shined a flashlight in Loral’s eyes and detected pupil reaction — a sign to be hopeful.
Loral’s care team began cooling his body down to protect his organs and admitted him to the intensive care unit. Two days later, they began warming his body back up to see if he would wake up.
“Loral woke up earlier than expected,” Jane says. “I heard the nurse say, ‘Loral, buddy,’ and I jumped up like a bolt out of my chair. His eyes were open.”
Loral awoke, confused. When he began moving his limbs, everyone in the room cheered. A doctor asked him a question, and Loral responded by shaking his head, which led to more cheers.
An angiogram revealed that Loral had severe coronary artery disease. He had high cholesterol, and the plaque clogging his arteries reduced blood flow to his heart. He needed triple bypass surgery, and he needed it soon.
The diagnosis shocked Loral. Two years earlier, he took a stress test at Mayo Clinic, and everything looked good. Another heart health check was on the books for this visit. He had not been experiencing any symptoms, besides feeling a bit tired. Loral had an intense work schedule as a longtime airline human resources executive.
Within days, Loral underwent open-heart surgery. Additionally, surgeons implanted a defibrillator in case his heart stopped again. Ten days after he collapsed, Loral was able to go home to rest before starting a cardiac rehabilitation program a few months later.
“I received world-class care at Mayo Clinic,” Loral says. “The whole sequence of events was just miraculous and led not only to survival but an amazing new quality of life. I beat the odds. I am incredibly blessed.”
Contributing to a Better Tomorrow
Loral decided to go back to work as a part-time consultant six months after his surgery. One year after surgery, Loral and Jane celebrated with a trip to Machu Picchu.
In the years since, the Blindes have continued their annual visits to Mayo Clinic for physicals. Physicians perform an echocardiogram on Loral’s heart. His care team also reviews data from his defibrillator every three months to check for abnormal heartbeats.
The Blindes decided to increase their philanthropic support for Mayo Clinic following Loral’s experience. Mayo Clinic recognizes the Blindes as members of The Mayo Legacy. This program honors people who include Mayo Clinic in their estate plans or make another type of future gift.
“I’m not here without Mayo Clinic,” says Loral. “I owe so much to all who cared for me. Hopefully our contributions can make a difference in somebody else’s life.
"We want to contribute to a better tomorrow, to Mayo Clinic’s care and research, and to help people feel the confidence and joy in having Mayo Clinic in their lives.”
Eds Note: The individuals featured in images were following social distancing guidelines, and in compliance with Mayo Clinic’s COVID-19 safety guidelines while unmasked.