The Villages Voice - August 2010

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Heart Institute an The Villages Health System

by Staff


Villages softball player credits Heart Institute at The Villages Health System for his remarkable recovery after a nearly fatal cardiac arrest.

            Although Marv Knight of The Villages doesn’t remember anything about March 15, 2010, it was a pivotal day in his life. The day began like any other for Knight and his wife, Connie, but in a split second everything changed.

            Knight was playing third base for his Colts softball team when he suddenly felt ill. His friend and neighbor Dave Miller, who was the third base coach, walked with him toward the dugout. They weren’t quite there when Knight collapsed from a sudden and unexplained cardiac arrest.

            "I don’t remember the event," says Knight, who has played softball for more than seven years. "In fact, I don’t remember that particular day at all."

            His wife, Connie, certainly remembers the day and the weeks that followed. She arrived at the softball field while paramedics were working on Knight inside the ambulance.

            "I was told later that he had already flat-lined at that point," she says. "I thought it was a heart attack, and only later did I understand that his heart had just stopped from a cardiac arrest."

             Miller and Jillian Buchanan, a nurse who was in the Saddlebrook Softball complex, immediately performed CPR on Knight. The Villages Station 42 Fire Rescue team was returning from a call and happened to be right across the street, arriving within one minute of Knight’s collapse. EMTs from Lake-Sumter Emergency Medical Services also arrived and began a revolutionary procedure known as induced hypothermia.

            Lake-Sumter EMS and the Heart Institute at The Villages Health System are among the first medical providers in the country to implement this life-saving procedure. Once EMS technicians stabilize a patient from a cardiac perspective, they chill the patient’s body to 93 degrees Fahrenheit. The lower body temperature reduces brain swelling and decreases the likelihood of brain damage. A cold saline solution is also administered intravenously to prevent a patient from shivering.

            “We are proud that we have the ability to provide life-saving procedures, such as hypothermia, here at The Villages Hospital,” says Tim Hawkins, Chief Executive Officer, The Villages Hospital. “Our goal is to provide world class healthcare right here in The Villages so our residents don’t need to leave our hometown.”

            After Knight arrived at The Villages Hospital he was kept in an induced coma for 24 hours while his body temperature was slowly restored to normal. Normal cardiac care followed during the next 11 days that Knight was in the hospital.

            "There are not enough words to express how thankful I am for what everyone at the hospital did for Marvin and how kind they were to me," says Connie. "My attitude about The Villages Hospital is 100 percent favorable."

            Knight and his wife say his treatment was first class and could not have been any better.

            "If this had happened back home, I wouldn’t have made it," says Knight, who moved to The Villages from Hinesville, Georgia, in 2002.

            Knight was in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at The Villages Hospital for a week, before he was moved to a step-down unit. During his hospital stay, he spent time in the Cardiac Catheterization Lab, where he learned that his heart was not damaged. He also received a defibrillator-pacemaker combo to keep his heart rhythm on track in the future.

            Knight winds up his 12-week regimen with the Heart Institute’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Center in August. In the meantime, he’s already back to playing golf and pickleball twice a week. He plans to resume softball in the fall.

            "I was extremely fortunate that everything fell into place the way it did," says Knight. "If any one of the elements had been missing, I would have been in deep trouble."

Marv and Connie Knight of the Village of Springdale are returning to normal activities in the weeks following Marv’s sudden cardiac arrest