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Died and rose again

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
Oct. 21, 2011 at 5:21 a.m.


For the rest of John Taylor's life, he'll be able to say, "I died for 12 minutes." Four weeks ago, on an otherwise lazy Saturday, the retired 63-year-old Edna resident decided to lie down for a late-morning nap with his dog, Chuckie. Fifteen minutes later, however, he said he felt an unusual pain in the chest and knew he needed to go to the hospital.

"I recognized the pain. I had a heart attack before, and I knew that's what it was," Taylor said.

After calling 911, Taylor called his wife, Jan Taylor, in case he passed out before the ambulance arrived. Jan Taylor rushed home and hurried her ailing husband to the Jackson County Hospital.

Upon arriving at the hospital, Taylor said he chewed an aspirin to help thin his blood. He was temporarily treated by doctors with nitroglycerin and a dose of intravenous Metoprolol. Recognizing the severity of Taylor's condition, medical staffers advised he be transported without delay to the emergency room at Citizens Medical Center in Victoria.

"I don't remember much after that. I remember seeing my wife and son Christopher at the hospital, but it's all sort of a blur after that," Taylor said. "I don't remember anything until I woke up in ICU the next day."

Paramedics rushed Taylor to Citizens Medical Center in an ambulance, while Jan Taylor followed behind in a separate car.

Desperate to save her husband's life, Taylor's wife whipped out her iPhone and implored friends on Facebook to pray to God.

"Need emergency prayer requests. John is in ER ... right now ... 99 percent think it is another heart attack ... please pray," she posted on Facebook, Sept. 24, at 12:13 p.m.

Facebook friends immediately started responding to the post, offering prayers and words of support for the Taylors.

"Within a few minutes, more than 50 people were praying for me," Taylor said, tearing up.

When the ambulance pulled up to Citizens' emergency room, Taylor went into cardiac arrest. He was ushered to the trauma room where Taylor said his wife and friends' prayers were answered.

Victoria College paramedic student Lisa Hillman rushed to Taylor's bedside and immediately began cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR.

"He wasn't alive," Hillman said. "I didn't really think, I just acted."

Standing on a stool beside Taylor's bed, the petite paramedic student performed CPR for 12 minutes until ER doctors took control.

"That's hard to do. It's a very physical thing to do on someone for 12 minutes straight," Taylor said, who also has paramedic training.

Hillman, a former electrical engineer and firefighter in the U.S. Navy, recently completed her EMT training in summer at Victoria College, then starting the paramedic program in August.

"He was my first CPR patient," Hillman said. "It's so rare that not only would my first save be the first time I've done CPR, but that he'd walk out of the hospital without any physical damage, or heart damage, or brain damage."

Taylor remained in the hospital for eight days for observation. He suffered a few broken ribs from Hillman's CPR but otherwise said he felt fine only days after the heart attack.

"I absolutely do feel like she saved my life," Taylor said.

But Taylor did say that neither he nor any other medical professional was ever able to explain the two large bruises on his butt, which appeared in the days after the heart attack.

"The only thing I can figure is when I got to heaven ... God kicked my butt," Taylor said laughing. "He kicked me back down here and said, 'You're not ready. You've got things to do for me.'"

While still in the hospital, Taylor sent out an email to some of his professional medical contacts requesting to meet those involved in saving his life.

"Lisa came to see me at the hospital a few days later. She came in my room and just said, 'I'm Lisa.' And I got up and hugged her. That's all I needed to hear," Taylor said.

What he didn't know when he sent out the email request was Hillman had considered leaving paramedic training altogether only a few days before the heart attack.

"I'd been struggling with something in class earlier that week and was considering whether this was the right thing for me," she said. "He may say I saved his life, but I would reply back with, he saved my career. I know now this is definitely what I'm supposed to be doing."

Hillman doesn't consider herself a hero although Taylor credits her with the title. They both agree, however, that God played a major role in Taylor and Hillman intersecting in the emergency room.

"Had it not been for so many different little things that had taken place ... if they hadn't all fit together just exactly right, the outcome probably would have been much different," Taylor said. "God had to be sewing it together. It would be so far fetched for it all to be happenstance."

Since being discharged from the hospital, Taylor said he's been living heart healthy, and has lost 30 pounds.

And Hillman said she's continuing her training, and will be a licensed paramedic in December. She said she one day hopes to work as an air ambulance medic.

As for Taylor, the man who died for 12 minutes and came back to life, he said he's convinced his heart attack was a sign from God to finish out his life's purpose.

"I don't think God has given me a new assignment, I just think my original one has yet to be finished," he said. "There's definitely still a purpose, and I'm not done with it yet."

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